Daily Devotion for Saturday 6th April 2024

Information

Dali  was inspired to paint The Ascension of Christ by a “cosmic dream’ that he had in 1950, some eight years before the painting was completed.  The vivid colours of his dream led to the painting of the nucleus of an atom as both the background to the painting and as a symbol of Christ’s spirit.  Jesus’ feet point towards us drawing our eyes up to the centre of the atom – which looks rather like a sunflower.  Jesus’ face isn’t visible  – often the case in Dali’s paintings of him.  A figure above Christ has a face wet with tears.  The triangle formed by Christ’s feet and outstretched arms is reminiscent of his more famous depiction of Christ of St John of the Cross based on sketches by the Spanish mystic. 

Reading Colossians 3: 1-3

You have come out of the grave with Jesus, so make sure you enjoy his new life. You can share his special relationship with God. Don’t get bogged down in trivial matters. Since your experience of death and rebirth, your life is one with the ongoing life of God. When the curtain goes back to reveal the reality behind everything, Jesus will be seen as the key to life, and you’ll be there, in his company.

Reflection

Growing up in Glasgow, when visiting the Kelvingrove Art Galleries I was always fascinated by the Dali painting Christ of St John of the Cross. In those days, it was hung so that it could be glimpsed at a distance along the long vista of the upstairs balcony, drawing the eyes and feet towards it. Nowadays, one of the first things I see at home each day is the print hanging on my bedroom wall.

The contrast between that picture and this Ascension, which was painted some seven years later, is striking. The crucifixion floats against a dark, empty background above a serene landscape. The ascension seems to show Christ floating backwards into the glowing sunburst of an atom surrounded by what seem to be burning clouds. Christ’s crucified body is knotted in agony. His ascended body is smooth and unmarked, although his claw-like hands echo those nailed to the cross. His unseen eyes look up to the dove of the Spirit and the tears running down his wife’s face.

Both paintings were done in the era when memory of the destruction wrought by nuclear weapons was raw. Dali was deeply affected by these events and expressed the fear he felt about the explosions in his art.1) The moral dilemmas of those times have been depicted in the recent film Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures).

As I contemplate the two images side by side on the screen and read the words of Paul in Colossians, I see a depiction of the non-trivial journey from the grave to rebirth, with rebirth not yet complete. The hands of Christ reach out to grasp us into his company but indicate his exasperation that we have not yet been able to live in peace with one another as long as the threat of nuclear annihilation remains present.

Prayer

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth;
lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust;
lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.
Peace, peace, peace.

1)     https://www.salvador-dali.org/media/upload/pdf/salvador-dali-and-science_1409308040.pdf
 

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