This is one of the images on a cathedral chasuble, embroidered by one of our beloved, past parishioners. This image arrests me. I love the way the wheat and the grapes, symbols of our Eucharist, our bounty, our Savior’s body and blood, our central act of worship – are making an empty space within their brackets. They gather around what seems to be an empty space of red silk. And that seems just right. This image on the vestments of our cathedral’s chasuble is not an image. It is, rather, a boarder around no image.
And that empty space is what is so beautiful. I am always amazed by the church’s capacity and desire to explain a mystery. We write and preach doctrine and liturgy like we are sure of this mystery of which we speak. Partly because it provides us with job security. Partly because sounding sure keeps the questions at bay. Partly out of arrogance and pride. And yet, this image speaks volumes to me about my need to let the open space in the middle of the bread and wine stay open, stay empty, making space for this mysterious, shy, vulnerable loving, tender God to move uncontrolled, un-described, unconfined, uncreated, undomesticated.
Today, I want this space in my life. And I want it enclosed with bread and wine. I do not want it filled with explanations, descriptions or apologetics. I want God to inhabit the brackets of the bread and wine in the glorious mystery of space without image – just the redness of blood, of martyrdom, of spirit, of caution, of stopping to let others pass.