Images of Jesus abound. In one of my photographic walk-abouts on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, I came across this image of Jesus at the bottom of a busted garbage dumpster.
As I was walking (with my cousin Miriam) my photographic eye caught a glimpse of Jesus peering from the bottom of a trash bin, his chin resting on a dirty and discarded pinkish flip-flop. God only knows how many miles that flip-flop walked before it rested on the face of Jesus?
Enter Holy Week
The Western Christian world is currently observing Holy Week. This sacred time in the Christian calendar has given my photograph a special meaning to me. According to the gospels, before Jesus was crucified, he was beaten and tortured then made to drag his own cross to the place of his execution. Golgotha where he was crucified was literally a garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. It doesn’t get any worse than that for a spiritual master committed to a vision of peace, hope, justice, and LOVE. It was a ghastly end to a brilliant beginning. Jesus walked the talk and paid a hideous price for it. The dark side of religion reared its ugly head.
I suspect that many in the secular world of spirituality would prefer a more sanitized version of the death of Jesus, as do many Christians. After all, what is the appeal of a brutalized messiah left naked to die nailed to a cross in the stench of a garbage dump? There is no appeal in that at all!
Being authentically true to one’s self comes with a price tag and Jesus paid the ultimate price. Jesus was not alone. Even the venerable Mahatma Gandhi, the consummate Karma Yogi paid the eventual price for his love of humanity. Like Jesus, Gandhi too was murdered in the name of dark-side religion. Both these men had an unshakeable faith in humanity, an unequivocal commitment to their authentic self, and a vision of God’s Kingdom that nothing could shake loose.
In the Jesus narrative, all the shadowy forces of religion conspired and joined forces with Roman imperial rule against him. He was executed in the most undignified way possible, but then the narrative takes an unexpected twist.
Jesus is buried but after three days he breaks out of the tomb leaving it empty. All the ugliness that plotted against him in an attempt to obliterate any semblance of an authentic holy man and avatar failed.
Whether we believe the story or not, the events of Holy Week offer us an opportunity to reflect on the dark side of humanity. It is an opportunity to ponder our not-so-human refusal to embrace an inclusive message of LOVE and a higher vision of what the world can be.
Good Friday and Easter
On Good Friday, Jesus will be left naked to die in the stench of a garbage dump. My photograph is a modern day graphic reminder of this. If we are authentically seeking to be our truest self, we don’t need to leave him there. It is my hope that we can lift him out of the garbage our fears and shadow religion continue to heap on him, to a place of liberation and resurrection.
The shining face of our True Self is within all of us. Jesus is a mirror to our true self. Why not lift that image of Jesus out of the garbage to a place of Resurrection, Life, and Easter joy at the very center of our hearts? May it be so!
Blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter!