My desk is homemade–two cabinets with a door on top. My intention has been to paint something on it for years. Twenty-ten is the year. In January I painted an excerpt from a dream I had about a Greek or a god being roughed up by the goddess Praxidice.
Now I’ve nearly finished a proper complement to Justice by painting Mercy. I should have made Mercy a man because I’m in love with that character from Orson Scott Card’s novel, The Worthing Saga (which I’ve just reread).
But I wanted to see if I could make a woman look as bad ass as the god in William Blake’s “Ancient of Days.”
My painting’s title comes from Blake’s poem, The Divine Image. My mom had me fixated on all things Blake by the time I was 5-years-old. Some things are worth obsessing about.
A story I remember from Catholic school days haunted me for a long time. The morality lesson was from a religious textbook. The tale started out with an angel visiting hell, and the angel had permission to rescue a soul if that soul was found worthy. The angel asked a woman if there was any good deed she had ever done. She replied that she once gave a beggar an onion. I remember being little and thinking, wow, she was mean.
The angel lowered a gigantic onion down to hell and told the woman to grab on. The woman had a difficult time getting purchase, but she finally did. (And I found the angel a little sadistic at this point. It seemed like a dirty trick.) The woman’s eyes burned and she needed all her strength to hold on. As the angel raised the woman from hell, damned souls began latching onto her legs and arms hoping they too could make it to Heaven. She wasn’t having that. She began kicking and trying to shake off the freeloaders. She fell and lost her chance at Heaven forever.
The moral of the story for me as a first or second grader was do nice things for people on swing sets or on buses. That way if I went to Hell, the trip out would be easier on everyone. 🙂
As an adult, I can only think that was a twisted story to tell little kids.
I toyed with the idea of painting souls in a River Styx and my guy would have been wading in it. However, if my angel was to be truly merciful and full of godly love, she would have to reach right down and snatch the person from despair. And she wouldn’t leave anyone behind. So, this is how I painted my version of Mercy. She personifies Blake’s ideal (and Card’s). She makes no judgments. Being completely filled with love, she can only rescue a wretch from a desperate situation.
If you share your ideas on mercy, I’ll gladly give you a dollar and a hamburger on Tuesday. 🙂