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I hadn't painted for twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
. I quit because painting had begun to take over my life, drawing me away from my family. For me, painting has always been meditation, a mystical interchange between myself, the canvas, and "the Other," and I was finding myself so absorbed that other aspects of my life were beginning to suffer.

Earlier this year I met Italian artist Orlando Tisato at a workshop he was running during the Adelaide Festival of Arts The Adelaide Festival of Arts is an arts festival held biennially in the South Australian capital of Adelaide. One of the world's greatest celebrations of the arts, it is internationally renowned and the pre-eminent cultural event in Australia. , here in my hometown in South Australia South Australia, state (1991 pop. 1,236,623), 380,070 sq mi (984,381 sq km), S central Australia. It is bounded on the S by the Indian Ocean. Kangaroo Island and many smaller islands off the south coast are included in the state. . I discovered that he painted as I used to paint, only more intensely -- a mystical dance of thanksgiving, celebration, and worship! One encounter with this nimble old man, exuding joy and vitality, and all of those longings were stirred. Every aspect of his being was like a mirror, reflecting back to me the knowledge that to deny what was "in me" was to deny life. I had met a holy man and his holiness was expressed in "being" and paint. I sought him out after his workshop and in broken English he encouraged me to "do a little at a time," something achievable.

My faith community is made up of those who find "mainline" church alienating or inaccessible. One of our worship times is silent. We scatter ourselves around the worship space from which all the pews and chairs have been removed; in an attitude of prayer, some read, others write, some walk. We have cupboards full of junk that may be used to make things. I thought, why not use this time to paint? Easter was coming and I had been reading Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace. In my work as a university chaplain, I was struggling with the violence of fundamentalist Christians toward others. In particular I was trying to come to terms with my own reactivity: why had I become so angry with them that I was in danger of escalating the violence?

I decided to attempt a crucifixion scene, starting with a black background, the color-foreground of hope to come out of the dark. But the household bleach didn't work and later, when the canvas was dry, I was disappointed that the paint color had disappeared into the black. I took the painting home and, in order to make a fresh start, turned it upside down and began again, this time with liquid swimming pool bleach. The effect was instant, and I was amazed to find the colors already present coming through unpredictably. The image coming to me was not the crucifixion but the resurrected, cosmic Christ, taking the wounds of the outstretched out·stretch  
tr.v. out·stretched, out·stretch·ing, out·stretch·es
To stretch out; extend.

 crucified hands with him into eternity yet coming to me, inviting embrace -- coming, yet waiting; appealing to me, yet respectful of my own integrity. I applied extra color to the front and, for more subtle effects, to the back of the canvas. I decided to add a crown of thorns crown of thorns

Christ thus ridiculed as king of Jews. [N.T.: Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2–5]

See : Mockery
 to balance and bring contrast to the image, but also to portray an unambiguous Christ and to juxta pose the physical and material with the spiritual, the equivalent of the paradox of the resurrected Christ eating loaves and fishes loaves and fishes

Jesus multiplies fare for his following. [N.T.: Matthew 14:15–21; John 6:5–14]

See : Miracle

The painting became part of our Easter service, and members of the community encouraged me to take it with me to provide a backdrop for a workshop on "difference" that I was to lead at the First Global Multi-faith Conference for Tertiary Chaplains in Vancouver in late June. Being in the North American North American

named after North America.

North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.

North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus.
 vicinity, who could resist staying on to witness a Fourth of July Fourth of July, Independence Day, or July Fourth, U.S. holiday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Celebration of it began during the American Revolution.  in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 and take in the fiftieth anniversary Cross Currents Consultation? So, unexpectedly, the painting was offered, and made an appearance at Cross Currents as a contribution to the final day's worship.

For me, the image of open arms signifying invitation and hospitality--of the heart and the mind -- sums up the experience my wife and I shared as part of the Cross Currents community for those few days.

GEOFF BOYCE is chaplain to The Flinders University of South Australia, a member of the Uniting Church in Australia The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) was formed on June 22 1977 when many congregations of the Methodist Church of Australasia, Presbyterian Church of Australia, and Congregational Union of Australia came together under the Basis of Union. , and a co-founding member of The Other Late Late Service.
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Publication:Cross Currents
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 22, 2000
Previous Article:The Poets, Jesus: Representations at the End of a Millennium.
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