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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, August 2

And he bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock.
—Mark 15:46

Years ago an artist associated with our parish died. As a tribute to his life and labor, we exhibited a few of his works in our gathering space. Many people came for the exhibit and spent time with the impressive still lifes of flowers, fruits, and other objects of nature. Some were enormous oil paintings with heavy gilded frames, while others were small almost whimsical portrayals of the basic things of life in grandiose style.

But the more I lived with the paintings the less I saw of the flowers and other objects. Walking through the space each day, I gained a new perspective on his work. I began to notice that virtually every painting had a linen cloth wrapped deep within the composition. Not an afterthought or casual object of Renaissance style, the cloth struck me as the central figure.

He had taken a negative space and emphasized it so that the cloth itself became the centerpiece of the composition. And in every case, the cloth was white. He had not only given us images of nature’s rebirth amidst the flowers and fruits, he bestowed something of our own rebirth by transforming a simple cloth into a shroud of resurrection.

Resurrection is often the thing that I miss. It’s there, right beside me each day. But somehow, I become so fixed on all the objects around me that I fail to see the central theme. So when things are crazy, I focus on the elements creating the chaos instead of the undercurrent of hope and joy amidst it all. I become so absorbed in the details, I fail to see the deep abiding theme of newness running like a beautiful shroud throughout my life.

I now return to the image of the shroud when I lose sight of God’s resurrection in my life. Having that image has helped me when the details start to control and I forget the total composition of my life. I begin to see the white linen—something left behind—as evidence that new birth, new life is taking place.

I stop and visualize how that shroud looks in my life and I start looking for it amidst all the busyness that captures me. And the incredible thing—I have yet to find a place where God has not already left the shroud for all of us to see.

Open my eyes God, open my eyes. I want to see you. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.