“Cultural Hope”

Wheelchair seating in a theater (i.e. giving a...

The painting was two feet wide and at least three and a half feet long. It hung on a wall in an art gallery, dominant despite sharing the space with several other paintings. While there were others that had caught my eye, this one in particular was striking.

It was a picture of an art gallery with a painting of Jesus on the cross on the central wall. Looking up at the painting, hope and longing pouring from the canvas was a man in a wheelchair. The painting was called “Cultural Hope”.

It was a moment of awe as we in the studio stood, invited in to this private moment between Jesus and a wheelchair-bound man. It was reminiscent of stories long ago where in a crowded room a paralyzed man was healed – only this man was still bound.

I wanted to stand there forever. Was it the longing in the man’s eyes? Was it the distinctive connection between the two. Was it that moment of shared suffering between cross and wheelchair that shouted of pain and only whispered of redemption?

I walked away strangely challenged and moved. While this man’s wheelchair was visual, my wheelchair is in my mind. While his paralysis was obvious, mine is hidden. But I, like the man in the painting, have my times of looking at the cross shouting with pain and hearing only the whisper of redemption.

But the whisper compels me, telling me to wait, reminding me that the cross was replaced by an empty tomb; that my painting goes beyond “cultural hope” to a living reality.

9 thoughts on ““Cultural Hope”

  1. this comment is late, but I kept thinking about your picture with the empty wheelchair — as if the guy got up and walked away, leaving the chair behind. Empty tomb, empty wheelchair.


    1. That’s so funny – that’s exactly why I picked that picture! Thank you for getting it! Oh and your outfit is ready! I got the call yesterday and they are closed today. That was quick eh? Hugs.


  2. You have such a beautiful and sensitive soul Marilyn… and me… I am outwardly brash, in most people’s faces and yet terribly sensitive on the inside :-) And Jesus calls us all and holds us and that spans all divides and gives us hope :-)


    1. These words are very kind. I actually have had times when this sensitivity was a huge deficit … where I was so paralyzed when seeing struggle that it rendered me useless as a nurse, useless as a friend. I think so much of it was not knowing how to give the pain to God. Love your words that “Jesus calls us all and holds us and that spans all divides…” How are you?!


      1. I am well… dealing with change and flux and keeping my head above water. I suppose it is faith that keeps me going, knowing that I will not go under and that every bump has a reason, a purpose. I am learning to shrug off the burdens that I have felt compelled to carry for others (family in particular) because I have reached a point of realisation that I would be better served bearing my own burden, as would the others around me. But it has taken me decades of learning and letting go… and trying to do that with grace and without acrimony. So yes I am well… trust you are too :-)


    1. Thank you Ruthie – I heard Joni Eareckson speak years ago and remember her talking about her visible paralysis revealing to her the paralysis on the inside. That came to mind as I looked at this painting.


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