In 1985, I began a series of paintings (actually, mixed media collages). The collages intrigued me. The process of creating them was almost like participating in a series of visual archaeological “excavations” of some sort. At the time, I couldn't quite grasp what it was that I was looking for, or what exactly I was expecting to “uncover”, but I kept “digging”, nonetheless, for almost five years.....
I numbered the collages and gave them titles like: “Reliquia” (ie., a container to hold or display religious relics), “Sanctuary”, “Chamber”, “Tesora” (Italian for “treasure”), “Scoperto” (Italian for “discovery”), “Temenos” (Greek for “sacred precinct”), “Nicchia” (Italian for “cavity” or “niche”) and more.
In 1986, someone wrote this about these collages in an exhibition review:
“Graffagnino creates small paintings, ranging in size from 6 X 8 inches to a little more than twice that size. One of his series, titled "Sanctuary" is created with built up and almost iridescent colors. Each contains a representation of what looks like an ancient temple carved from living rock. “ (see full review here).
In a way, ...no matter what our vocation may be ...we are all “digging” and searching for a “sacred place” where we can, at last, rest and find ultimate peace, joy and satisfaction. I think we all sense deeply in our heart of hearts that there truly is such a “place”...someday... where we will be embraced.
And I pray that we all might seek that “place” earnestly and sincerely.
In the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, we are given this account:
“The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.... So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man....” (Genesis 2: 18...21, 22...)
In the text above, the Hebrew word translated “rib” (tsala) may also be translated “side” [of a person] or a “chamber”.
Adam's side is divinely pierced, a chamber opened, a rib removed and from it a bride is miraculously conceived, formed and delivered.
I've sometimes wondered , when the resurrected Christ appeared to the 'doubting' disciple, Thomas (John 20: 27), why He revealed himself with those open wounds preserved. Would it not have been just as easy for the Lord to have presented himself healed, intact, unscathed and unblemished? Would it not have been been more palatable and “comfortable” to have handled this famous confrontation in some other, less shocking manner? Surely Jesus could have convinced the skeptical Thomas some other way!
“Then He said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'” (John 20:27)
I think it is interesting to note that the Greek word translated “side” (“ pleura”, Strong's Concordance #4125]) in John 20: 27... may also be translated “rib” .
I wonder.....Could it be that John 20: 24-27 and Genesis 2: 18-22 are somehow parallel “Bridal Chamber” texts? The Plan that was once spoiled and ruined by the Sin of man (Adam) in The Garden, was divinely turned around and miraculously redeemed by Christ (the second Adam) on the Cross.
“But when they [the Roman soldiers] came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” (John 19: 33,34)
Praise at This Torn-Curtain Call
In His side, His flesh still open
Gashes torn into His hands.
Put your hand there, Doubting Thomas...
Enter there and understand.
Touch that Chamber broken open;
Seek the Treasure found within...
Find that shocking Sanctuary;
Know the awful truth of Sin.
Find the Holy Spirit-Treasure
In this sacrificial wound.
Seek the cleft, God's Holy Mercy...
Freedom for the once-entombed!
Enter there the Sacred Precinct,
Be there wed to Holy Love.
Find this Hiding Place of Mercy
Excavated from above.
Spear us, Lord, with Calv'ry's message;
Spare us not this Cross of pain.
Show us how we crucified You.
Teach us how our Sin has reigned.
Don't allow us to deny it;
Take us to your Sacred Heart.
Wash us with this Blood and Water....
New Creation....Second Start.
Blessed Bride of Second Adam,
Through the rib, re-born and free;
By this Faith His Seed was planted...
Granted Peace and Heaven's Key.
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though once we regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.”--- (2Corinthians 5:16-19)
“The Father longs for his children, the Son longs for his Bride, The Spirit longs to please both Father and Son and present us to both.” --John White
“As a young man marries a maiden,
So will your sons marry you;
As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
So will your God rejoice over you.” --(Isaiah 62:5)