The death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta this weekend is yet one more awful reminder of how what we think we are seeing affects how we act. Post-modern eyes, a vital part of post-modern brains, have been trained to trust one’s own vision of outer realities. If we can relearn how to look at the inner realities that inform the cells of vision and the decisions that they help us make, we can work for change in ourselves and in our societies. May this medieval image of death help us.
On one level this image is about the physical death of a human being.
It is also an image of the part of that person we can never see with our physical eyes, his soul (shown as was customary by the use of a small naked body).
And it is an image of how valuable that whole person, body, and soul, was to God.
The angels’ care is shown through their presence, their hands of support, and their eyes that connected directly.
We can watch the video of the police officer shooting Rayshard Brooks in the back and see what happened on one level. We must also look at all we can not see with our physical eyes, both with our spiritual vision (as the medieval artist did) and with the deeper perception that can discern invisible social realities that allowed Rayshard to be killed. By looking at it all very care-fully, very prayerfully, and very honestly we will come to know what must be done.
God, “Teach me what I do not see…” Job 34:32 NRSV
Invitation to Prayer:
Close your eyes and “see” Rayshard Brooks. Say his name out loud. Open your eyes and heart, then gaze gently at this image. Express the prayers that well up within you.
See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes. Ecclesiastes 7:29 NRSV
To Understand the Image Better
These images are of death of Anthony in the Anthony and Paul the Hermit window at the Chartres Cathedral (1215-20).
Other Posts in this Series
Introduction: Life and Death
Passion & Resurrection Window: Talking about Death
Suffering; Hanging On Before Letting Go; Goodbye
John the Evangelist Window: Considering Our Lives; Possibilities in Times of Grief; Consider This!
Magdalene Window: The Many Faces of Mourning; Grieving, Then and Now; Water: In Life & Death; Resurrection; The Importance of A Face; Welcome As A Blessing
The Glorification of the Virgin Window: Dying in Community; Your Soul; Carrying Death
The Saint Sylvester Window: Murder