By Ronald G. Davis
Kate Greenaway was a noted 19th-century English illustrator, especially of children’s books. Though you might not recognize her carefully detailed botanical studies, you would probably recognize her images of happy Victorian children in sunbonnets and pinafores or knickers. In fact, Greenaway’s name is attached to the British literature award presented annually for most distinguished children’s book illustration.
In a letter to her friend John Ruskin, recognized art critic and writer, she wrote:
I go on liking things more and more, seeing them more and more beautiful. Don’t you think it is a great possession to be able to get so much joy out of things that are always there to give it, and do not change! What a great pity my hands are not clever enough to do what my mind and eyes see, but there it is!
An artist frustrated by her inability to reproduce the beauty she sees.
Liking things more and more. Seeing them as more and more beautiful. Even though they do not change. Oh, the joy.
Is not that the way we should approach the Lord’s Table?
Now, of course, at first glance, there appears to be no beauty at the cross. Foul-mouthed soldiers, hoots and hollers of the local rabble-rousers, blood splattering, the sound of nails being hammered into flesh, anguished cries of doomed men . . . death . . . is not all of that ugly, completely without beauty?
Yes, but to understand the motive of God and the humble submission of his Son—that is sheer beauty. To sense the personal consequences of the scene—that is overwhelming eye beauty!
How can one paint the scene with words alone?
And so I must bemoan with Kate Greenaway (with a slight change): “What a great pity my words are not clever enough to do what my mind and eyes see!”
But here it is! In all its beauty.
Praise to the One who can make the ugly beautiful . . . as he has in each of us, at the cross.
Ron Davis loves “standing at the cross” reverently and thankfully each week at the Lord’s table of grace and sensing God’s love.