The reconciling power of love

Skainos Chapel, Belfast, Northern Ireland

STORIES FROM THE ROAD: Skainos / East Belfast Mission Chapel in East Belfast, Northern Ireland

A few years ago we were commissioned by Skainos to create a series of paintings to be used in their new worship space. The name, Skainos, is derived from the biblical Greek word and rooted in Christian tradition and history. Skainos  speaks of the importance of practical engagement with community by figuratively pitching a tent in its midst and hints at the notion of hospitality, love and the extended human family.

We developed a series of prayer paintings that spoke to creation, working with the opening narratives from Genesis and from John’s Book of Revelation, where the author describes the New Jerusalem. At the center of these two stories is the cross. We thought of the cross as a symbol of cracking open love in the world.

Carl Jung says that the cross is a “Christian totality symbol.” He sees it symbolizing the way of completeness in which the quadrants or four cardinal points of the whole are connected. The vertical line connects what is above with what is below, the place where heaven and earth, spirit and matter, the vastness of the cosmos meets earth. The horizontal line symbolizes the line of all humanity throughout time – connecting East and West; our divergent nations and cultures. The center of the cross is where all converges, where opposites come together. The center of the cross is the heart of Christian tradition, the place of love and the giving of oneself. It is in this sacrificing, where opposites and that which is considered irreconcilable, are brought together. The cross is the symbol that points to the nature of love itself. Whether as nations, communities or individuals, we must choose to abandon ourselves to the reconciling power of love.

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