David Byrne, “Road to Nowhere,” 1985
As a people, we leave the Baptism of our Lord feast and move into the season after the Epiphany. January 6 in the liturgical calendar is not about insurrection, but Epiphany. The three kings come from the East drawn by a star to see the newborn baby Jesus and warned in a dream, they leave by another way. Where do they go? How did what they witness change their lives? What does it mean for us to be living in a season after the Epiphany?
I am reminded of the Talking Heads’ song, “ Road to Nowhere.” (I know this dates me!) Like the Magi in their journey, we can know where we’re going, but we can’t say what we’ve seen. We have a point on the horizon that we are moving toward which gives us direction and perspective, but not clarity, necessarily.
Western art was revolutionized in the Renaissance with the discovery of perspective. By utilizing mathematical and architectural principles, visual artists were able to depict three dimensions in two. According to Cristina Motta, “to properly use the linear perspective a painter has to imagine the canvas as an “open window” through which he sees the subject of the painting. In this open window it is necessary to draw straight lines to represent the horizon, divide the painting with different horizontal lines and fix the vanishing point. The vanishing point is usually located near the centre of the horizon. From this point it is necessary to draw the so-called “visual rays” that connect the viewer’s eye with the point in the distance” (https://useum.org/Renaissance/Perspective).. The development of perspective unleashed phenomenal creativity—Leonardo, Raphael and those who followed them, drew from this technique. It strikes me that in the life of Christian discipleship in the 21st century we are engaged in a similar creative process—we are drawing visual rays toward God’s horizon, the reign of God which Jesus points to on the horizon. It can also appear to be vanishing.
Next Sunday we will gather for our Annual Parish Meeting in the nave, following the 10:30 Eucharist. As I am preparing for it and considering where we’ve been as a parish and where we’re going, I appreciate the truth of the ambiguity of this season after the Epiphany; it feels like a road to nowhere and also a moment of perspective where we are together, led by the Spirit, called to the center of the horizon and invited to draw in a new way. I hope to see you there.
Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector