Pages from my journal- 3.30.11 3:30 pm- appropriately published today, Maunday Thursday- the day of my Lord’s Last Supper… right in line with my mediations on seeds of life and death.
This post is dedicated to the memory and legacy of a true visionary- a master in the world of wine, beloved name in our family, employer, friend and mentor to my husband- Jess Stonestreet Jackson. May vérité be known throughout the land. Please raise a glass, together, in his memory this week. Note- this post is longer than usual. It’s full of details.
I believe God once shared with me this: “I am in the details. All the rest is trivial.”
I’m sitting on the ground with my back against the wall at the end of a corridor at the National Gallery of Art, East Building, in Washington, DC. I’m next to the elevators with a pink pen and tiny journal of graph paper in hand- in awe. I imagine most visitors don’t even make it here it’s such a hidden place. I’m literally sitting because the oil painting over eight feet high and at least twelve feet wide on the wall to my left, hidden from plain view, is a masterpiece that’s moved me like none ever before. And, I’ve seen masterpieces- in the Louvre, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, El Prado in Madrid, museums in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Paris, Milan, Rome and Miami. Even the Mona Lisa, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or Il Cianacolo (Davinci’s Last Supper in Milan) didn’t move me like this. Painted by Salvador Dali in 1955, his rendition of the Last Supper has moved me to a humble pose on the ground with indwelling tears beginning to rain down my cheeks.
Donated to the museum immediately after collector Chester Dale acquired it in 1955, it attracted over 7000 visitors its first night on display. Here, now, today- very few even stop to look for more than a moment. Most because they are waiting for the elevator. Me- I’m choosing to live under its shadow for a while. I’ve been a Dalí fan since high school. It’s a place my brother and I have some common ground. In 2004, my husband, baby and I were fortunate to visit Dalí’s home in Figueres, Spain. (all of my images were lost years later in a hard drive crash- UGH)
After sitting here today, even though I’ve been a fan, I have an entirely new appreciation for the late surrealist. I don’t know Dalí’s faith- or the “proper” analysis of this piece- but I do know that the Lord is large enough to always enlist a man’s giftedness for Glory on High. I get up, stand back- take it all in. Snap a shot. I move in closer and breathe in the brushstrokes. I begin to lay my life- thought by thought- at the banquet table in between the glistening reflection of the cup and the broken bread. I begin with my thanks- for this day meandering museums and creation- for you, O Lord and being my best friend, for Your Glory, Abba (Daddy), for brushstrokes. His presence falls. I begin to see the painting.
Jesus is praying and His eyes are fixed above- twelve heads are bowed around him. (I will read later- twelve pentagons and twelve apostles, as Dalí said: “…communion must be symmetric.”) Jesus holds one hand to himself as if pointing “I” with three fingers raised saying “I am three- Father, Son, Holy Spirit.” Encompassing the table is a 3-D outline, almost a jewel of protection, around the twelve and my Lord. A bare chest of a man of great strength, filled with clouds and arms outstretched forms another layer around the jewel. A faceless man- just shoulders and arms- but larger than the pentagonal crystal. Abba- what are you saying here?
The peace of Jesus depicted in the work is transparent; and so is He. The water and fishing boats can be seen behind Him, through Him. The mountains, horizon and sunlight shine from behind as if looking through glass.
The folds of the white table cloth are so crisp it seems just laid out to dine along with the world changers. All the twelve are shrouded in cool linens, heads bowed, eyes invisible. Hands folded. Peace. Sunsets colors radiate around Him and even the reflection in the cup of wine (not grape juice) starts as one ray of red but forms three circles of light. Three boats are on the shore. The sides of the 3-D jewel- are window frames reflecting beams onto the table.
A dear friend texts and I answer to tell her where I am. Communion cannot be had without Community. Breaking the bread- the cup- together, remembering. This is where the jewel of protection and peace comes from above.
My emotions are so rocked I begin to pray for humanity and the tears fall. I’ve felt this before. It’s my Abba’s heart. His heart that others- maybe you- discover this hidden jewel. Not to be veiled in a corner hallway only to be quickly admired on our comings and goings. Our ups and downs. But for us to PLOP our butts down. Get low. Even in uncomfortable cold, hard marble floors (or meeting rooms) and SIT together. In his presence. And remember Him. What He did.
I overhear a woman who has stopped to look while waiting for the elevator, “Now, that’s an odd placement for it…” She points out- “There’s not even a guard.” (In case you haven’t been to a big museum- armed security guards are always on duty.) I begin to verbally share the enlightenments I am receiving and thoughts on significance when a crowd begins to gather- to wait for the elevator.
No one says don’t touch. No one standing guard. Next to the up and down and the water fountain. Isn’t this just like Jesus?
He just waits patiently for us until we see there is plenty of room for us at His table. His waters quench. I pray the whole world hears this message. He indeed has prepared a table for you- for us. Sit. Break bread. Sip wine. Enjoy His peace. The view is best from a humbled position. Go ahead- sit at his feet.
I ask a man about to shoot a photo, “Am I in your picture, sir?” “No,” he says, “you’re too dark.” “Aaahh,” I reply.
“But I’m drenched in light.”
All of a sudden, people are gathering to see what I’m sitting under. It must be good. I get up to walk away- wondering why I haven’t seen the hidden image of the dove of the Holy Spirit. Something just told me it must be there, but I didn’t see it. My backside was numb for sitting an hour or more on the marble, so I got up to explore the Gaugin exhibit and a crazy video instillation. It was closing time before I knew it and I was on my way down the elevator. I stopped to get one more quick glance and say goodbye to the Masterpiece. This time, there was a guard. His name was “Chicago.” “Come here,” he said, “check this out.” He brought me twelve feet away from the painting to the right side and said- look on Jesus’ hand. There was the dove. “Thank you, Daddy,” I said with a smile the size of Chicago.
Fast forward to today, April 21, 2011. My beloved-gone-to-heaven Grandpa’s birthday. In response to the passing of Jess Jackson, a friend posted on his Facebook status “amazing stuff – whatever your opinion you can not deny your legacy.” Most importantly- set aside your opinion and consider the legacy of One God-man whose life and death over 2000 years ago has changed the world- with the help of his small community.
What is your legacy? What are you committed to leaving behind? Share below…