Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: White (10/29/09)
TITLE: Framed In White
By Bill Schwan
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“Do you mean like a museum, Nijë?”
“More like a gallery, I’d say. You’d be amazed at how many people take up painting on this side of eternity.”
“I don’t suppose I should be surprised by anything after seeing that alabaster fountain when I arrived,” he said referring to a white fountain standing in what he had come to call the vestibule of heaven that cascaded red liquid in a soothing stream.
Nijë smiled at the observation and the memory of the circumstances behind the fountain.
“That fountain is a fairly recent addition. It was set up in 1800 A.D. terrestrial time to honor an English poet upon his arrival.”
“A poet? What did he write?”
“Hymns, primarily. His name is Bill Cowper. Maybe you’ve heard some. ‘There is a fountain filled with blood…?’”
“Of course,” he said, shook his head and chuckled. “Is this an example of God’s sense of humor?”
“I don’t think so. The Lord pays tribute to sincere efforts to honor him in ways that are rarely expected, and that was how he chose to commemorate Cowper’s interpretation of Zechariah 13:1 – ‘A fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity’. The gallery is in here,” Nijë said and gestured toward a small building that was larger on the inside than its outer dimensions should have allowed, but he was becoming used to these inconsistencies of scale.
The images seemed to be arranged in chronological order. The first section he walked through was tied to Creation. Suns, planets, and legions of angels burst into existence before his eyes. Waters parted to reveal continents, vegetation claimed any available place, and animals fed contentedly among the foliage. Then, in the midst of the splendor, were images of battle. As out of place as these seemed, he was even more intrigued by the opalescent white frames that surrounded the scenes of heavenly conflict. The material the frame was made of seemed to boil in response to the action in the painting.
“It is a substance that cannot currently exist in the physical universe, I’m afraid. Sin and all, you see. Sin breaks down the atomic bonds of the element, which is why it seems to move in the images portraying Satan’s rebellion. But I’m told it will be used quite a bit in the construction of the New Jerusalem.”
“The Pearly Gates, perhaps?”
“Possibly. May I suggest some other battle scenes that you may find more intriguing?”
“Certainly, but I never expected artwork in heaven to be so absorbed with the theme of battle.”
“You may find these to be somewhat unexpected, like the fountain in the vestibule,” Nijë said as they moved to a different part of the gallery.
The first image Nijë pointed out was a woman pushing a child in a swing. The frame showed some movement but nothing like the scenes of the battle in heaven. “The future of the child was the reason she chose not to transfer a large sum of money into an off shore account via a program she had designed that would have made the transfer untraceable. It was only a few cents from several thousand accounts, but she would have done it without being caught.”
He was shown a hundred other paintings that, once the circumstances were known, portrayed an intense battle within the souls of the persons in the picture. “Are you saying that these everyday battles are the ones that truly matter?”
“You tell me. Look here,” Nijë said and indicated a painting whose frame displayed a good deal of agitation. A young couple stood on a porch at night, the light on and parents watching from within the house behind the curtains of a picture window. “Can you imagine the conflict here?”
Daniel smiled and said, “I don’t have to imagine. I lived it. That evening, Pam and I had an opportunity to be alone but didn’t take it because we knew what would have happened. A minor battle in the grand scheme of things…”
“But a battle I’m glad we won,” Pam said and smiled at Nijë in thanks for leading Daniel to this place. Daniel was stunned by how healthy she looked in her white robe and said as much, her cancer having tainted his memory of her appearance. “Now tell me everything about our grandchildren.”
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