Ear of an Angel

Perspective: the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distances and positions

A few weeks ago I was blessed with the opportunity to spend an entire afternoon alone in New York City. I decided to take a walk through Central Park and spend my time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The prospect of this perfect afternoon eased my nerves and excited my intellect. I was in for a greater experience than expected.

As I meandered through the Met I relished the Roman antiquities: sculptures, bronzes, adornments. I recognized pieces featured in various books and magazines I have read in my lifetime. They were not all new to me. I know what to appreciate about them. The cut of the marble, the craftsman ship, the brilliance of the jewels, all were somewhat familiar. It was exactly what I wanted and expected to see.

I moved on from the Greek and Roman art exhibit with no real sense of where to go next. I walked around a corner and was instantly challenged. There I was in Modern and Contemporary Art facing several paintings I knew that I could have painted myself, had I sat down to do it. Yet, I was challenged. Why this color here? Why so basic here, but intricate there? He used ovals everywhere, why ovals? The title of this piece does not correspond with what I see, so what am I missing? This collection was thought provoking. As I worked through piece after piece I happened to look directly ahead and saw a mass of oil on paper in a renaissance-like frame about fifty feet away.

From where I was standing, I saw an ear. An enormous ear painted in what seemed to be black and white with hints of peach and bluish-grey. I did not know what to think other than how peculiar. (I later learned the artist called this the ear of an angel.) I moved in for a closer look and with each step, the picture began to change. From about six feet away I clearly saw a Madonna with child inside the ear. Of course I paused. Whaaat? I thought, equally amused and curious. At this point one could also discern a profusion of pink and grey dots, as the description card explained it, covering the entire image. Why? I thought aloud. I didnt get it. I proceeded, only to realize at close range the painting seemed abstract except for a surreal creased piece of paper with a red ball hanging from it casting a shadow. The crispness of this part of the image suggested to me that my attention to it was required. I scooted over to get a closer look at the trompe loeil and sure enough discovered the signature of the artist. I had just witnessed Salvador Dalis Madonna (1958).

I walked back and forth experiencing this masterpiece over and over again. At one point as I was stepping back to see the big picture once again, a man came up to the painting at close range. A little distracted by his form obscuring what I wanted to appreciate, I waited for him to move. But almost instantly I acknowledged that he was experiencing this too. He slowly moved backwards and I, forwards. After resuming a close range position, I turned to look back at the man. He looked at me and we both nodded knowingly. We had just seen four separate elements of one painting. We received what the artist had to show us based on how we worked through the experience and where we had positioned ourselves.

Is it not so with our relationship with God? Is it not so with our one word? We seek what we can readily recognize and understand in our walk with God and we are satisfied with staying there. It kind of massages our spiritual ego. But when it is time to get to work, when its time for us to take our word and find new and challenging places to apply it, will we? I pray for you and for me that the answer is a bold and adamant yes! It is thrilling to see God work in the unknown areas of our souls. To observe and ask, Why here, Lord?, What purpose will this serve?, You can actually use this, Lord? How can I move forth with this person in my path? It is thrilling to continue in obedience learning and growing. It is all about your perspective of your one word. Will you witness the masterpiece as it changes and becomes richer before your eyes? Will you let the Master show you His work in you at each step?

Perspective: a mental view or prospect.

J. Becton Skiba