Last Saturday Mariah, Savannah and I went to the art museum at BYU for an exhibit of paintings by Carl Bloch. Bloch is a Danish painter whose works on the life of Christ have been very popular around the world. The exhibit is of originals borrowed from churches and collections around Europe. Many of the paintings were done for alter pieces, really big paintings that hung at the front of chapels behind the alter. At the exhibit, these paintings were set up and framed like they would have been in a church, with columns and pillars. It was all beautifully done.
My favorite of the alter pieces, and of the entire exhibit, is this picture of Christ in Gethsemane. The scriptures say that when Christ was in the garden, “there appeared an angel unto him from heaven; strengthening him.” Always before when I read that scripture I thought of… well I don’t know what I thought, something more forceful; the angel stretching out his mighty arms with power radiating down in a white glow. So when I saw this picture, it really struck me.
Here, strength is given in tenderness and compassion; the angel supporting Christ, holding him up off the ground, with love instead of power. There’s no cheering, “Come on! You can do this!” Just an angel’s embrace.
I’ve thought a lot about this since seeing that picture, and have wondered about how I try to strengthen people, if I try at all, and if it’s loving rather than forceful. And, I’ve thought about the many times that I’ve been strengthened, and remember that honestly feeling loved gave me the support I needed. I’m trying to keep this picture in my mind and use it as an example of the kind of strengthening that works, and the kind I want to give.
Oh, and thanks again to the girls for going with me. They're always good fun.