This painting of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali used to hang in our home church in New Zealand when I was a teenager.
It has to be my favourite painting of Jesus. Not a contorted distracted Christ as depicted in so much religious art but a muscular self-giving Christ, elevated over the world, and yet intimately involved in it
Below is the short essay 'One Solitary Life' which I used to have hanging on my bedroom wall about the same time. Just found it again on the internet - you can't get too much of a good thing!
One Solitary Life
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
This essay was adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in 'The Real Jesus and Other Sermons' © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).