I have a song stuck in my head. Actually, it’s a refrain from a song but it circles and circles through my brain.
After about a hundred revolutions, the refrain sparked an image. The recent conclave meeting in Rome must have prompted the image, because I was reminded of Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. One of the most famous frescoes depicts God stretching a hand toward Adam and Adam likewise stretching a hand toward God. The two almost brush fingertips.
So, as I have carpooled kids, cooked dinner, and prepared my lesson plan for Sunday school, I have been humming, “I will arise and go to Jesus,” while envisioning the two hands reaching for each other.
In seminary, one of my professors said, “The image of God reaching for you while you reach for God” epitomizes the Christian journey. Always, God extends the hand of mercy and grace to us. Always, it is our role to reach for God. The moments of joy are when the hands connect.
The refrain in my head is from Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy. Written by Joseph Hart, a preacher and writer in the mid 1750s in London, he juxtaposed the Christian’s reticence to go to Jesus, particularly holding off “till you’re better” with the gracious invitation of always being welcomed in Jesus’ arms. So having tarried long enough, his refrain echoes that of the prodigal son, “I am going to get up and go home. I will arise and go to Jesus.”
Lent feels like a journey home. While Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem, we are walking the dark road to hope. Some days I feel like I am standing on a stool on my tiptoes with fingers stretched out hoping to brush the hand of the divine. Being home feels a lot like being at peace with God.
While visualizing Michelangelo’s hands reaching for each other, I have hummed the refrain, “I will arise and go to Jesus.” I have thought about why and when I forget to stretch out my hand to God. I have questioned why I think God may have forgotten to reach for me. And I have offered thanks for a writer and an artist, Hart and Michelangelo, who persevered in imaging how humanity strives for God and likewise God strives for us. I am thankful for their witness as I walk the Lenten journey.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.