Charcoal drawing Copyright Jonathan Griffiths
This beautiful drawing really caught my attention at the Grahamstown Arts Festival last year. It got me thinking. It’s become a metaphor image for an ongoing conversation with God for the past year.
The story it depicts is of a lady ‘who had lived a sinful life’ who gate crashed a dinner party where Jesus was being entertained by men from the religious elite. She crouches at Jesus’ feet and weeps, washes his feet with her tears, dries them with her hair and pours precious perfume on them.
If you just imagine the scene for a moment. This was a posh dinner party, people keen to impress the ‘teacher’. People putting their best foot forward, trying to sound intelligent. The best dishes were out.
Everyone knew that this woman stood out like a sore thumb. They were shocked that Jesus was letting her touch him. Doesn’t he know what kind of person this is?! They were trying to ignore her but she was making that difficult.
Can you imagine… the noise, the weeping, the mess, the snot. All over Jesus’ feet. The disruption, the intimacy and the disrespect is shocking. Imagine how horrified and offended everyone was.
Everyone apart from Jesus. He doesn’t seem to mind at all.
In fact he turns to the religious guys and asks ‘do you see this woman?’ and then commends her. He compared their hospitality and welcome of him to hers, and she comes out top in his opinion.
I’ve been thinking. The implication in his question ‘do you see this woman?’ is that he sees her. He sees her and receives her in all the mess of her raw emotions, snot and reality.
So often when I’m feeling in an emotional mess I want to sort myself out before I come to God. But this image and story has so powerfully spoken to me about Jesus’ ability to cope with, even welcome, my mess.
He is more able to meet us deeply if we come to him honestly where we are at, rather than presenting where we think we should be. If we are pretending to be somewhere we are not, he can’t meet us there.
So I’m trying to come to God as I am. I am using journalling to tell God the reality of how I feel, rather than trying to resolve it or fix it before I come to him. It’s wonderful to experience what it feels like for him to ‘see me’ and love me in the midst of where I am. It’s been freeing and so comforting.
The drawing is based on Luke 7:36-46
The artwork is by Jonathan Griffiths and is available for sale if anyone is interested.
You can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org