Sustenance: Images

It was Sunday morning.  I was skipping out of Church at UUCG because of the nasty cold I had. The sneezing, coughing and unending use of tissues made me think better of being in close quarters around folks I love.

And, I needed new running shoes.  You see, you can go running with an awful, nasty cold that has robbed you of your voice and your dignity without infecting anyone else.  So, I stood at the counter of a local store with my new shoes, waiting to pay and get back out to my car where the box of tissues was.

“Your hair makes you look like Jesus,” the cashier said.  I get that a lot, and it always surprises me.  My long hair does not strike me as looking like Jesus, but I am told it so often that I have to accept that some people see Jesus when they see me.  And, to date, no one has ever said that with a tone of voice that was negative.  So, the cashier.  She said it with a twinkle and and smile, and I knew she was speaking to me about something that was important to her.  What I’ve come to see is that when people take the time (and risk) of saying that they think I look like their Jesus, they are telling me about something that sustains them.

Images sustain us and they can devastate us.  They are more than pictures.  Images capture something of the visual, something of the mental, something of the spiritual within us and hold them all together. The image of the Twin Towers in Manhattan, either in their original state or in the twisted metal and stone speak to most Americans on a level that words can never touch.  Perhaps shockingly, that image is not all negative.  It is, without doubt, horrific, but it is also about love, loyalty, compassion, community and trust, grief, longing and tenderness.

What images do you walk around with, working within you each day?  Which images sustain you?  Which images drag you down?  I invite you to explore them, and choose the images that sustain your life, and to very specifically tell the others goodbye.  I have come to see that we do not always choose the images that show up within us, but we can choose the images that remain.  Let them be the ones that sustain . . . YOU.

Bob Patrick

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