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The whole-shaped hole

The whole-shaped hole

This park speaks to what we long for.

Walking back to my Boston hotel from a day of drawing, I’m in a slow, contemplative mode.  I watch people, wondering where they’re headed and what’s on their mind. I am wide open to anything remarkable, anything noteworthy.

Then, in the corner of my eye, I see a stone sculpture that is both simple and profound.  It’s perched at the front of a small, wooded park, squeezed between tall buildings. There is a dark sphere, perched on a pedestal that looks as though it just escaped from an adjacent block of stone, as if a giant gem had come loose from its settings.

I am a sucker for theme and variation. So, you can imagine my delight when I wander into the park and see that the artist has other similar-themed pieces. Some echo the first one and play with the negative space left behind by the sphere.

Others add objects to the globes. This one, with its quasi-tech headdress humorously reminds me of Marvin the Martian, Bugs Bunny’s alien adversary.

But there’s something profound going on here. These smooth, whole spheres are the perfect response to the holes left behind. It’s easy to imagine the spiritual truth at play, that our longings are only fully met by the perfection of the one who made us. As Augustine famously said, “our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.

Psalm 37:4 gives us a deceptively simple instruction: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” As we see that everything we need, everything we desire, is found in him, our hearts are perfectly molded for his completeness.

A hole shaped for his wholeness.

We, sadly, allow his presence in our life to be overshadowed by such temporary and trivial things. Small pleasures are only wrong, though, if they compete to fill the emptiness that God, in his goodness, designed for himself.

What amazes me is that within the whole of his sphere of love, those pleasures can exist – sanctified, in their right place, to be enjoyed as a part of our relationship with him.

As I leave the park, one last image strikes me.  Looking past a great, round stone at a cave-like opening, split from top to bottom, I am reminded of Jesus’s resurrection. He literally went into the hollow place, the empty and silent hole of death, on our behalf.

But he didn’t stay there. And through his death and resurrection, the curtain between our ache and his aid has been torn in two.

So, we’re not left to simply contemplate the emptiness. We can experience the perfection of the one who fills.

Lord, in you we move and live and have our being.  The hole inside our souls is shaped for your perfect sphere of love.  Forgive us for all the other shapes we try to force fit inside us.

Note to readers: I will post again, on occasion, as God provides content. As always, I’d love to hear your reactions and reflections on these observations. In all the work that I do, I have found that the joy is not simply in the sharing, but in the conversations that it starts. So, I look forward to your thoughts.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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