The Death of Innocence and Voluntary Displacement

The Death of Innocence and Voluntary DisplacementLamentation from Scenes from the Life of Christ, Giotto di Bondone, 1304-06, Fresco, 200 X 185 cm, Arena Chapel, Padua Italy

Week #5 …died, and was buried, he descended to the dead,

Giotto, in this scene of the Lamentation of Christ, shows us the individual grief of those who surrounded Jesus after his descent from the cross. Each in his own way grieves over his death….over the death of innocence. Their love for Christ, holds them there in this moment and they can not turn away. In this moment they become a community bonded together by their love of Jesus. And so, it is Giotto who brings this scene to life in a ground breaking depiction of Jesus’ life and death….scenes that place Jesus in a realistic time and space.

As I was considering the importance of a meditation on the scenes surrounding Christ death and burial, I was drawn once again to pour over the pages of Henri Nouwen’s wonderful little book Spiritual Directions, and I was struck once again by his concept of Voluntary Displacement. The idea here is that at some point in our Imitation of Christ, we must realize the need for our willingly leaving behind the world and its prescribed ways to pick up the Way of the Cross. He writes,

“The discipline of displacement calls us away from the comfortable place and the easy oasis.”

In viewing the lamentation of Christ, I can take my mind back to a time when the disciples had to face the horrors of the darkness that had, for a brief time, canceled out the light of the world…..and in their grief… our grief…. we one by one are ignited with the desire to pick up our torch and light a flame that burns ever brighter.

again Henri Nouwen writes, “The remarkable paradox of displacement and downward mobility is that is creates community.”

When we all join in our grief for the darkness that impartially inflicts itself upon the innocents of this world, we rise and join forces to carry on the work of our Lord so that it may rise to even greater heights.

The key here is that before the joy of the resurrection, we must each individually let our hearts be torn with the grief over the loss of light in a world of darkness. Before I can sacrifice my comfort, my self-seeking ways, my clinging to social norms, I must be moved by the need for my participation in the light.

And so our answer to fear; to ignorance, prejudice and injustice is to volunteer to join the fight; each of us in our own quiet ways. And when we do we become like a gentle breeze that blows across our land and gives refreshment and new life to the flames of love our Father has planted within us.

So in our darkest hour, we have faith and we rise up to say:

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life,…………………………………………. in your light we see light.

Psalm 36: 5-9

Happy Sunday! Peace be with you!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Ray says:

    This is really good Jennifer. In our day and age I suspect we would more readily and more easily identify with the sons of Israel in Amos who really enjoyed their ease in Zion where every blessing became an idol, than we identify with the Son of David who condescended to be with us in our plight. We’ve too much padding on our crosses! Thank you for a gentle and needed admonition.


    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting…you are the wind in my sails:) Happy Thanksgiving


  2. Reblogged this on God Thru the Arts and commented:

    Join me as we wait…..Sunday is coming!


  3. And May the Peace of Christ, and the HOPE found in His resurrection also be yours, Jennifer! Thank you for you kindness and encouraging words. I am humbled to be a part of your journey!


  4. Remember, No man is and Island:) and Sunday is coming! Thanks for being there!


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