Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Imago Dei

One morning, God was staring at the wall. Not a blank wall, but not patterned either. It was a wall of chaos: bright colours, dark colours, swirling patterns, eternally dark and infinitely bright both at the same time. God wondered what could be made of the wall, so he reached out a hand and swirled the colours around. Soon order and pattern began to emerge: luscious pastoral greens coalesced, deep aqua blues combined, and this new creation seemed very pleasing to God.

After contemplating the wall for a while longer, God began to wonder what to do next, so he spoke gently to the wall, and a lustrous sheen began to appear. The wall became shiny, as if a layer of glass had been laid over the top of it. As God continued to stare at the wall, he could now see his own reflection within it. He saw himself inside his creation. When he moved his hand, the image of God waved back. When God smiled, his image smiled back. When God blew at the wall, the image blew a kiss back. God loved the image in the wall, and was happy with all that he had made.

But then something unexpected happened. The image of God reached out and punched the wall from the inside, and the shiny surface of the wall now had a flaw in it, like a stone-chip on a car windscreen. Suddenly the image of God didn’t look quite so much like God anymore: the flaw in the surface had damaged the reflection. The order that God had brought to the wall was distorted, and God was very sad. But still he stood there, staring at the wall and not turning away. Then the image hit the wall again, this time harder and angrier, as if trying to get out, trying to get at God. God flinched, but still he stared at the wall. The surface was by now crazed with cracks, and the image continued to fragment into lots of tiny, sharp fragments. God contemplated walking away from the wall, but knew that if he did so his image would vanish from the wall forever. Distorted as it was, it was still his image; it was still the image he had loved, waved at, and blown kisses to.

God wondered what to do next. And then had an idea. He took a few steps back, and threw himself violently at the wall. The force of the impact stunned him and shook the wall, and the millions of tiny sharp fragments ripped at his skin. Powered forward by the momentum of his run-up, God seemed for a moment to merge into the wall. His blood streaked the surface, and the mark of the impact was clear to see. But God himself had vanished.

After a while it was just possible to make out the faint image of God through the crazed, blood-stained, fragmented surface. God had gone into the wall. Gradually the image of God grew stronger and larger, as God walked up to the wall from the inside. He reached out his hand and carefully joined two broken shards together, and then two more, and then two more. Gradually, slowly, God began to repair the wall from within. As God repaired the wall, he looked at it very carefully, and started to see his own image reflected back.

The end.

(c) Simon Woodman, 2011.