Performance Still 1985,
Performance photo by Mona Hatoum (Born 1952),
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, mounted on aluminium,
Performance done in 1985, photograph executed in 1995,
© Mona Hatoum
Take nothing for the journey
Luke 9: 1-6
Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and let none of you take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, let it be from there. As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and healing everywhere.
Reflection on the Performance Photograph
Our photograph today is by Mona Hatoum, an artist born in Beirut to a Palestinian family in 1952 and has been living in London since 1975. She first became known in the early 1980s for a series of performance and video pieces where she explored the fragility and strength of the human condition under duress, exploring conflict and contradictions in our world. The work we are looking at today, shows the conflict between walking barefooted or with shoes; both still involve walking and do the same thing, but the experience is very different… This photo was taken during a performance which Hatoum carried out in Brixton where she walked for nearly an hour. It depicts Doc Martin boots being dragged behind her bare feet while attached (more like shackled) to her ankles by laces. When Jesus speaks today about walking on our own journeys, he tells us not to over-pack or over-prepare, as the danger is that our focus might shift to our own comforts and needs, rather than remain focussed on the actual journey and our destination.
If we truly can live in the realisation that God did already provide everything that we have received so far (health, job, family, friends…), then it does indeed comfort us, as we realise not only that He has already provided us with so much, but that He will remain to do so in the future. If we are focussed solely on God, only then can God’s grace work through us unrestrictedly.
Christ is telling us that our baggage allowance is zero… I don’t think any of us have ever travelled that way!… So he is calling us to do something radical, but then also comforts us at the same time He is there with us every step of the way. The very last word of today’s Gospel reading is the word ‘everywhere’. It means that Christ’s presence and God’s grace are very real and extended to us beyond all human boundaries…. Wherever we walk… whatever shoes we wear… whatever our journeys will be… He is with us everywhere.
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