Salvador Dali, a surrealist painter from the 20th century, gives us a gripping image of Christ that has at least two different perspectives. Christ is on the cross, kind of, but there are no nails to hold him there. This, of course, begs the question, what does hold Christ to the cross anyway? Love. Furthermore, there is no nail marks either. In fact, Christ looks pretty good. We do not find the crucified Christ, we see the resurrected Christ, gazing down upon the normal and mundane activities of life. Christ has not been raised beyond the cross, but Christ is still the cruciform One who now reigns in power. But this power does not undo the reality of the cross, but it substantializes it in his reign as prophet, priest, and king.
Dali noted that when he painted “his Christ,” the painting called the Christ of Saint John of the Cross, that he painted Christ in a triangle, and that this represented, in some way, that Christ was the nucleus that upheld the universe. You can see how the cross makes a triangle shape, with Christ’s head in the dead-center of the triangle. This gives the cross an “arrow-like” quality, as if the cross is the needle on a compass pointing due North. If we follow the arrow down it looks like the bottom of the cross is creating an eclipse. There is something there, behind it. If we look closely, as someone encouraged me to do, we can see another shore hidden in the clouds, a shore of a different realm than the day to day reality that our eyes are initially drawn to. It is as if the cross points to a different dimension, a dimension that is further highlighted by the cross’ tilting backwards.
Unlike the cross, Jesus doesn’t dwell on that other realm, but stares down at the day to day realities of life. Christ hovers above the mundane bearing the reality of the cross that points to a different world and a different order. Christ, it was pointed out to me, is actually shaped like a uterus, depicting the new life that is achieved on the cross – a life that must be born in Christ to trully be reborn and eventually know life in the new world.