I'm beginning to see Jesus as a subversive rule breaker! Yes, you heard me correctly. Jesus was there when the world was created. Not only was He present, He created the world in which we live. He also created its laws. He knows them inside and out, up and down. Of course He does. He created them! And, just like any artist, He breaks the rules beautifully. As an artist, I see that I must learn the structures and the laws of art in order to understand how to create. As I grow in my artistry, I begin to work outside of the rules I've learned. I begin to break the rules to create more subversive, provocative and innovative art.
For instance, in this piece of art entitled "Word Became Flesh," I intentionally made the Jesus figure proportionately bigger that the other figure, although rules would say that a figure in the back round should be smaller and lighter in color to recede into the back round. (A concept known as atmospheric perspective). I intentionally broke the rules to show how the presence of Jesus becomes a definitive characteristic of someone who carries Jesus around in her body. He increases and takes up more space.
Over the past couple years, I've taken up running. It's become a spiritual discipline. I find that if I can pay attention to my body, it can tell me things. I've pretty much ignored my body most of my life. I have a high pain tolerance level. I realized this through the process of natural childbirth. I HAD to pay attention with that kind of pain, but through it, I realized how much I could ignore a headache or other sensations that were living in my body. Running has helped me connect with that part of myself.
Recently, I had an experience at the local recreation center when it was too cold to run outside. When I can't run outside for whatever reason, I go to our local rec center. They have a track above the basketball court. They have rules that help the runners and walkers that utilize that track to take care of each other and avoid injury. These rules are posted right at the entry door so that any new users can't help but notice the posted list of rules and cautions. Amidst these instructions, one can find the directional flow of the day. Each day has a specific assignment; depending upon what day it is, one runs clockwise or counterclockwise. I've gotten to the point that I don't pay attention to what direction we're supposed to run and just join in the existing flow. This day was just like that. I got to the gym and there were 2-3 people lapping the track. I entered the track and began my run in the established direction. Eventually, the other runners finished their workout and exited the track. I was the lone runner left on the track. I still had a few more miles to go, when another woman joined me on the track, only I noticed that she was walking the track in the opposite direction that I was.
I noticed that every time I passed her, she would avoid my eyes and had a visibly stern look on her face. If we made eye contact, her eyes were greeting me with disdain and judgement. I thought all this behavior strange, from walking the wrong way, to glaring at me. I wondered if I must be going the wrong way. Sure enough, as I rounded the posted rule sign, I could see that this day was assigned in the direction that this lady was walking. I began to feel angry that she was imposing her rules upon me and that if I didn't concede, one of us was going to run into the other. (It had almost happened already - she made it clear that she was not going to make any adaptations for me). I felt the need to explain myself, that I had just joined in on what already had taken place before me. I ran a few more laps, stewing over her behavior and what my reaction might be. I finally realized how ridiculous this was and that I was going to be the bigger human being. So, I stopped and reversed my direction. She didn't seem to care or take notice. At least she didn't gloat and give me the look of victory. We just continued our workouts and moved on without ever speaking a word to each other.
It wasn't until later reflection that I realized why her behavior was so appalling to me. Those rules are posted in the attempt to keep walkers and runners safe while using the track. The rules are for the runners. The runners are not for the rules. It would've actually been safer for her to join the existing flow of traffic in that instance, rather than stick hard and fast to the posted rules. The whole point of the rules were lost on her that day. She became so rigid in keeping the posted rules that there was no freedom in distinguishing that perhaps breaking the rule would have been in the best interest of all involved.
So it was in the wheat fields the day the Pharisees confronted Jesus about his disciples picking heads of grain on the Sabbath. So it was the day the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus to stone. So it was the day that Mary chose to break open an expensive jar of nard to anoint Jesus instead of feeding the poor. And on and on and on.... I see in the gospels time after time after time that Jesus let LOVE define everything. Love over the law. If it is for love's sake, Jesus always chose LOVE over law. That is what He came to show us. That was His destiny. The cross is the ultimate demonstration of Love over law. He broke the rules in the most beautiful way.
Jesus was always defending the ones He loved to the religious pious of the day. He defended His disciples before the Pharisees. He defended His dear friend Mary before the disciples. This, all for the sake of love. We, as readers and viewers of the story where Mary washes the feet of Jesus with her hair and expensive oil, see the whole picture. We see the disciples incredulous at Mary's extravagant presumptions. We see Judas with dollar signs in his eyes. We see Mary enthralled and moved by this beautiful man who does all things well. We see this mystery of a man who responds surprisingly unlike any other male leader of the day and receives Mary's offering with love and pleasure, as a fierce lover who defends her actions. This is not simply admiration; it is deep soul love. He knows it. He invites it. He sees through to each human soul and its intention and chooses love over rules. As Mako Fujimura states so eloquently, "Jesus, the ultimate Artist, recognized Mary as an artist, transgressing in love."