It’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for art with Rosanna Cartwright! Rosanna creates drawings, sketches, and paintings based on her faith journey and she’s been kind enough to share them with us each Wednesday. Today’s piece is both beautiful and thought-provoking:
I’m going to share Rosanna’s own perspective on the piece before adding a thought or two. She says:
I made this piece while thinking about what it meant to be baptized and why Lutherans baptize babies.
None of us really know what we are "getting into," when get baptized, when we follow Christ. Much like a caterpillar, we start out on dirt, branches, eating leaves, thinking this is it. This is all there is.
Then we go through a kind of metamorphosis.
And we still don't know what to expect, and we don't know why it happens, but our eyes are opened to a new life and a different view of the world. Instead of eating everything in sight in order to fill myself, I now have a different perspective. I see the world and people from a different angle. I can see outside my own needs and wants.
I am still unable to see and know everything, (thus the hood) but I have a new and different viewpoint on the world than I had as a caterpillar.
Let’s stick with Rosanna’s connection with baptism. It’s a good one!
The shroud through which the central caterpillar emerges is dark on the outside, almost like a widow’s death veil, but vibrant and life-filled on the inside. Baptism connects us to death and resurrection, both in the moment of the sacrament and daily thereafter. We die to our old selves and rise again to new life in Christ. We’re always dying and rising in Christ!
From the outside, the death looks scary. “Will I still be me? Will I lose things I love?” Then you realize that the only “you” that matters is full of life. The fearful, selfish self that is only interested in preserving its own life at the expense of everyone and everything else needs to pass, that it might make way for the new self: full, joyous, life-giving, flying unencumbered. In Jesus and in baptism, we break through death in order that we might know life. The darkness of the veil becomes the brightness of the new day.
Rosanna’s thoughts also call into question what it means to know God. We think knowing happens in our heads, as we first understand, then make use of, the object we “know”. Is God simply something else to consume and understand, like the branches and leaves the caterpillar eats?
I’d suggest differently. We know God like the butterfly knows the air. The butterfly cannot comprehend the air or see it. It might not even know what to call it. The butterfly experiences the air as it flies. It swims through the air, being held up by it. The air is all around. Without it, the butterfly wouldn’t exist.
The butterfly never understands the air in its head. It knows the air through its whole being, in the motion and rhythm of life, being held up moment after moment while flying free. This is how we “know” God as well.
Thanks to Rosanna for sharing this wonderful baptismal reflection! You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosanna.cartwright.3.