“Savior of the World”
El Greco ( 1541 – 1614)
A dark December day;
dark outside my winter window;
dark inside our too-still house;
dark through all the muscles
of my body, of my mind.
Bombs and missiles frighten
angels in the skies, and bullets shatter
trust across our neighborhoods and schools.
Darkness surrounds and swallows up—almost,
the candles of this waiting Advent time.
I turn to the icon* silent in my hands:
El Greco’s “Savior of the World.”
More darkness there:
of hair, of beard.
And framing all the Christ, a shroud of midnight black:
I want to turn away, to find a brighter Christ,
the baby Christ of promised peace, the One
to bind and blind the darkness all around.
And then I see.
Behind the darkness, through the darkness, into the darkness,
a strangely halo-ed square of light
shines round the Savior’s face;
shines through his penetrating eyes;
shines onto his blood-red tunic;
shines across his hands, atop his blue-royal robe;
shines un-dimmed by the darkness;
shines in quiet confidence;
shines toward that time when darkness
will be no more.
For now, it is still dark around me.
For now, it is still dark within me.
But as I look into those tender, sorrowful eyes,
a little of that halo-ed light shines hopeful
into me; for now, that is
*I know. El Greco’s “Savior of the World” is not “officially” an icon, but for me it has become one—even without the sanction of a higher authority.