Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Beautiful (11/07/05)
TITLE: Worth a Thousand Words
By Rachel Burkum
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As I relaxed, I let my eyes follow the other visitors who walked through the museum, casually glancing at the elegant pictures. One older woman caught my eye as her strong perfume made its way to my nostrils. She was nicely dressed, and walked with her chin held proudly in the air. I watched her until she stopped at a painting I hadn’t noticed before. All of a sudden, she snatched a handkerchief from her purse to cover her mouth as her face turned a shade of green before paling, as if met by a hideous scene that encouraged nausea. The woman appeared to gag, then shook her head in disgust before walking briskly away, her shoes clicking on the floor. “Disgraceful,” she muttered. “What gore to have in a place of respect.”
I squinted across the room to see the painting, but I was too far away to make out what it was. Before I could even think about rising, a teenage girl and boy sauntered up to the picture, blocking my view. I heard the scantily-clad girl giggle as she pulled her hand from the boy’s grasp. “Look at that,” she pointed. “Get a load of all that blood.”
“Yeah,” the boy snorted. “Looks like ketchup to me.”
“Heh. The man on the right looks like he’s gonna throw up.”
The boy’s laughter echoed through the building. “So would I if I was next to what’s left of this guy.”
After a few more jabbing remarks, the couple left, leaving me even more curious. I finally got up enough gumption to stand, but a close-by water fountain’s appeal was stronger than the painting. As I leaned down to drink, I saw a man approach the mysterious picture. I half expected a severe reaction from his as well, and found myself staring at him. Even from my distance, I could see his face redden, his lips tightening into a thin, embarrassed line. He looked at the painting for only a few moments before stuffing his hands in his pockets and trudging away, his head hung in shame.
I couldn’t stand my puzzlement any longer. I left the water fountain and aimed for the other side of the room. Just before I reached my destination though, another young man scooted in front of me, blocking my view yet again.
“Ha! What idiot did this anyway?” The man shook his head in exasperation. “What a poor excuse for a painting. The setting is all wrong, the hairstyle is absurd, and my word, all the blood is hideous.” He turned and suddenly noticed my presence. “Some religious freak with a paintbrush. Should have read up on some historical facts before playing with art.”
I gave a short, polite nod, and sidled past him to finally gaze upon the picture that had caused such an array of emotions. My breath caught in my throat as a chill ran down my spine. A mixture of anger and sorrow flooded my heart. Anger for the way this painting had been mocked, and sorrow for the mockers’ souls. I stared into the eyes of my Savior as His love pierced my very being. Blood ran from His hands, feet and head, flowing freely to cover my sins. His face was twisted in anguish, but somehow, the scene was blanketed in peace.
Jesus Christ hung from the cruel, wooden cross, a sacrifice for me. The nails that held Him there were gruesome reminders of my iniquities. The crown of thorns pushed brutally onto His head made fun of the One sent to give life. Hung between two thieves - my King who gave His life for the very ones who mocked Him.
A tear ran down my cheek and I saw a woman glance at me with disdain, but I didn’t hide my grief. This painting was not appalling or humorous to be criticized with conceit. This painting was the very essence of something beautiful.
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