It was almost 9 when Steven descended the steps. Rachel was sitting with Philip at the kitchen table, going over his school work.
“I didn’t mean to sleep this late. You should have woken me up.” Steven said, apologetically.
“You need your rest. You’re going through a lot right now.” She rose from the table. “I’ll fix you some breakfast.”
“Nonsense. I’ll just have some cereal. You’ve got school work.”
She smiled and sat back down. “There’s some coffee still warm, I think.”
Steven found some honey-nut cheerios and a bowl. He sliced a banana on top and poured himself a cup of coffee before joining them at the kitchen table.
“Hey, Dad. After Philip finishes his math, we were planning to go to the art museum. We’d love for you to go along.”
“I finished my Pilgrim’s Progress paper. Now I’m starting one on Religious Art from the Impressionistic Period,” said Philip, “You can help me interpret it.”
Steven smiled, “I don’t know how much help I can be, though. I’m not much of an art expert,” he paused, “but sure, I’ll go.”
“Great. I’ll be finished with this math soon. When you finish your breakfast, we’ll be ready.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art was less than a half hour away. A large “LOVE” sculpture welcomed them.
“Now that’s positive thinking,” said Stephen.
Monica smiled, “I thought you might like that.”
“Have you been to many art museums, Grandpa?” asked Philip.
“Not really. Columbus is known for its architecture. I’m told it is a good community for artists. I just never really devoted much time to it.”
“We’re just going to explore the European Painting and Sculpture section today,” said Monica, “There is a mixture of religious and secular works there. They have quite a collection.”
“I’m going to select 5 works to focus on in my paper,” said Philip.
They made their way through the entrance.
“Now I’m going to pay.” said Stephen.
“It’s free admission, Dad.”
“Even better.” They laughed together as they each picked a brochure.
Philip led the way. The first piece he stopped at was a multi-colored brass statue of a figure seated, holding his head in his hand.”
“This one is called ‘Satan’ by Jean-Jacques Feuchere. It says, ‘Feuchere created a dejected Satan after the fall, with talons and bat-like wings, in a brooding position not unlike that of Rodin’s Thinker.’”
“He is certainly feeling sorry for himself. He reminds me of a lot of people today,” said Stephen.
“Maybe he could benefit from a good therapist,” replied Monica.
Philip smiled and wrote down some notes in a pad he was carrying.
They moved on, pausing to observe the various paintings and sculptures on display.
“Here’s one,” announced Philip, “It’s called ‘The Raising of Lazarus’ by Andrea Vaccaro. It says, ‘This scene represents the miracle that marked the culmination of Christ’s ministry on earth. He raises his hand and commands Lazarus to rise from the tomb.’”
“I like the pleading expression on Lazarus’ face,” said Monica.
“Yeah, it’s interesting, though. You don’t know if he’s pleading to come to life or to stay dead.”
Philip asked, “What do you think, Grandpa?”
“I don’t really know,” said Steven, “I mean, as a miracle, we can celebrate the life that comes to us after
death. But from the perspective of Lazarus, he had to go through dying twice before he could be spiritually raised in Christ.”
“So, he had to endure suffering for our sake as well.”
“Yes. I guess you could say he took one for the team.” Steven said.
Philip moved on to a painting of the face of Christ looking upward. This one just says, “Christ Bearing His Cross – Workshop of El Greco.”
“He has a very distant expression on his face,” said Philip.
“I imagine this is the point where he says, ‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do,’” commented Monica.
“All I want to know is – where is the cross?” Steven replied.
They moved freely through the museum.
“There aren’t many people here,” remarked Steven.
“That’s one of the great things about home schooling,” said Monica, “you can usually get into educational places during off-hours. We can get a lot more out of field trips and outings without having to battle crowds.”
Philip had found another painting. “Now, this one is different. It’s called ‘Yellow Christ’ by Emile Bernard. It says, ‘Here Bernard presents Christ in the Garden of Olives, with Judas and a guard on the left and the angel bearing the chalice at right.’”
“I like how it portrays an angel bearing the cup of suffering,” Monica noted.
“Look at the disciples!” said Philip, “They’re dead to the world.”
“I can’t get over how much Judas looks like a woman,” Steven observed.
“How about this one?” Monica asked, pointing to a painting of Mary reading to the baby Jesus.
Philip read, “Madonna and Child by Barbara Longler. The subject of the reading Virgin was a popular one in the Renaissance. It exalts a feminine ideal, embodied by the Virgin, in which the ability to read is exercised in the service of prayer. On another level, the book held aloft by the Virgin can be seen as a symbol of the Word.”
“Dad, you know what this reminds me of,” Monica said, putting her hand on Steven’s shoulders. “I think of nights at Grandma Johnson’s house, how she read to us at bedtime from that colorful Bible story book. Remember that?”
“I do.” He smiled. “Hey, what’s that Jesus is holding? It looks like a bowling ball.”
Philip moves over to the painting notes, “It says here it’s a globe.”
“Oh, I see.” said Steven, “That would make more sense.”
They walked around, pausing before each work.
Suddenly, Steven froze before a bronze statue of a woman bowed down.
Philip came up alongside him and read the note. “La v’ente ne connue (Truth Unacknowledged) by Jules Dalon. Dalon was the most prolific maker of public sculpture in late 19th century Paris. Using the form of a beautiful nude woman with a broken mirror at her side, he created a universal allegory about confronting truth.”
Steven stood staring at the statue. He thought of Rachel, where she might be, what she might be doing, who she was with. The image of a young Rachel, on their wedding night flashed before his eyes. Rachel’s face buried in her lap – fixed on this bronze stand.
Philip spoke up, “Grandpa?
Steven didn’t answer. Now, his mind turned to his own regrets. His own face buried in his lap – his failures as a father and as a husband. Truth unacknowledged.
There was no response. Steven could not hear. He could not see. His mind went blank. All he could feel was a twinge in his hip. Then he collapsed.