Diego Velazquez painted a black maid with the Emmaus dinner over her right shoulder. A remarkable painting. If I had the web where-with-all I would put a copy of it here. But go look it up. A remarkable work of art.
It's at the National Gallery of Ireland when I was in Ireland I bought a card that has the painting at the bottom and a wondrous poem by Denise Levertov above it. Denise's words to a gathering of poets and theologians years ago (what an idea--poets and theologians) have always inspired me. "The crisis of faith," she told the gathering, "is the crisis of the imagination. If we cannot 'imagine' walking on the water to Jesus, how can we meet him there?"
Here's this poem.
Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus
She breathes, listens,
holding her breath.
Surely that voice is his--
the one who had looked at her, across the crowd
as no one had ever looked? Had seen her?
Had spoken as if to her?
Surely those hands were his.
Taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he's laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face - ?
The man they'd crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from the tomb.
The man it was rumoured now some women
Had seen this morning, alive?
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
Didn't recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she is in the kitchen, absently touching
The winejug she is to take in.
A young black servant intently listening
Swings around and sees
The light around him
And is sure.
Beautiful words to ponder deeply.
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