Recently in a senior religion class, I used Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam to give students a visual example of the ‘gap’ between God and self we sometimes feel during prayer. I described the miniscule space between the two fingers of Adam and God as a manifestation of the mysterious experience of God’s presence and absence in our lives.
One of my more introspective students had a different take.
“God’s hand looks like it’s making a huge effort,” he observed, “and Adam’s hand looks so relaxed. It looks like if Adam actually tried, he could reach out and touch God.”
I had never noticed this detail, always having fixated on the gap between the fingers. Yet a second glance reveals that the relaxed forearm, wrist and fingers of Adam render a sharp contrast to the determined forearm, wrist, and index finger of God. Adam is reaching with such ease. God is reaching with all his might.
This Holy Week, God’s hands appear, again, to be making ‘a huge effort.’
This inspires me to ask:
As the Church enters into his Paschal Mystery, what am I doing to reach out to him?
Benedict XVI reflects, “The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we were not created for an easy life, but for great things, for goodness.” He was commenting on the surprise of his own papal election. Ratzinger, elected at 78, said “I was convinced that I had already carred out my life’s work and could look forward to ending my days peacefully. With profound conviction I said to the Lord: Do not do this to me!”
The ways of the Lord are not easy, but we were not created for an easy life. There are so many opportunities to connect with Christ as the Church moves through Lent to Easter, both at Church and through private devotions. This Paschal Triduum, if I am tempted to fall asleep in the garden, or deny him in the midst of those that don’t know him, or leave him to suffer publicly while I cower in fear for my own life, I will remember his hands. And I will offer mine.