This piece was created for Imago Dei Community's winter art exhibit, on the topic of "The Spirituality of Suffering."
As I spent time thinking about the topic of suffering and spoke with others in the church about solidarity with the global church, it hit me how little we as Americans understand suffering. Certainly there are Americans who suffer, but most of the people I've talked to agree that what we call "suffering" doesn't compare in the slightest to what people around the world experience on an almost-daily basis. Some of the stories we hear about others (think "Hotel Rwanda") are simply inconceivable to us. We have the ability to drive wherever we want, live wherever we want, hop on a plane and visit faraway places.
The same language was used to describe the recent tsunami, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, and mudslides in California which killed dozens. Aside from the difference in scale, the people in California had chosen to live there, despite repeated warnings and then even orders to leave. Most of the people in Southeast Asia had no choice: you live where you live because you don't have the freedom to pick up and move anywhere you want. How can these two events be set next to each other as if they are the same thing? How can the same words ("disaster," "tragedy," "devastating") describe such vastly different occurrences?
All this is only a small step for me, to be sure. I am still nowhere near comprehending the suffering that goes on around the world, but at least I now see how little I understand it.
We are so protected. We surround ourselves with so much comfort that "suffering" means getting stuck behind somebody with too many items in the express lane. We are out of our depth; we take extraordinary measures to protect ourselves before dipping our toes in a kiddie pool. Meanwhile, behind us (out of sight, out of mind) the ocean swallows entire cities.
Artwork trade with Melissa Armstrong.
March 03, 2005
your piece at the show at urban grind really caught my eye! i just wanted to let you know that it made an impact on me.
i happened across your website on a happy accident and now i have linked to it from my blog so people in my blogmunity can enjoy your work too!
keep it up!
Posted by: tabitha g at April 16, 2005 03:06 PM