Athena is in the middle of the piece, surrounded by dark woods, her head is bowed down . A Church can be seen in the distance to the left…. but the sun is shining from the right.
I recently read a blog post by Brandon Capuano. In his post he mentions two books, both of which I’ve read.
I identify with the pain, frustration, and injustice that Athena endures….Thankfully my experiences led me away from something that I didn’t need(although I couldn’t see it clearly at the time) and straight into the arms of a loving Savior who understands and endured rejection Himself. My mixed media art was inspired by his post. specifically these paragraphs:
In the book, The Scent of Water (chapter “Flawed Pearls” )Naomi recalls a story from Paulo Coelho’s book “The Witch of Portobello.” In it she tells the story of a woman named Athena who was married at age 19 and shortly thereafter became pregnant. And when her child was young, her husband abandoned her. Naomi recounts how this poor girl, abandoned and left alone, went up to receive the Eucharist at Mass one Sunday and was rejected by the priest. She could not receive the sacrament. The priest said, “Athena, the Church forbids divorce people from receiving the sacrament. You signed your divorce papers this week. “Naomi recounts the tale (forgive me for the long quote, but it is worth reading),
She was crushed, speechless, numb. People began to step around her in line to receive the bread that was theirs. In an awful combination of seeing her as invisible and visible, they stepped around her, so she knew they knew she was there. But they bypassed her, for she was an obstacle in the way of their path to greater spirituality…I imagine her to be devastated. She lost something that mattered to her, something she thought would always be hers–something she had given herself to. And it was gone, it claimed her dreams, her respect, her ability to hope, and her very sense of self. She was alone, very alone, even when there are few who are willing to stand in the center of the bull’s-eye with us….
…I imagine many of Athena’s friends turned against her. Some saw her as tainted, regardless of the details. Perhaps others behaved as if she carried a contagious disease, warning her married friends to keep their distance lest they catch the bug of divorce. The most painful thing in her life, or the limited version they knew of it, was fodder for insensitive gossip and irreverent dinner-table conversation. Did they feel the severity of her pain? Did they have to watch when her body was racked with sobs, and tears burned her eyes and stained them red?
I imagine that her marital status became a part of her name, as in “Athena, the girl who is divorced. I wonder if they told her there was no place for her in ministry, if they sat in comfortable chairs, dressed in their suits, and held meetings behind closed doors to decide, while their own stories remained tucked away with their coordinated handkerchiefs. Did someone say, “Do you know that God hates divorce?” And did she answer, “I know. So do I. Possibly more than you?” I wonder if it hurt when they pinned the Scarlet D on her, or if she was so wounded and fragile she invited and fully accepted the pain and guilt to add to the punishment and shame she had inflicted on herself.
Did they know how hard it was for her to come to church that day? And now, in a final act of driving the knife into her gaping wound and out the other side, she was told she was no longer worthy to come to Christ, the one who could give refuge in her anguish. For unlike them, he did know all that lay within her heart. And it was to Him that she actually answered, not the masses who tried to occupy His place.
As the priest finished administering the sacrament, he slowly stepped back to the altar. Athena stood in the same place where he left her and cried out what many have only cried on the inside: “A curse on all those who never listen to the words of Christ and who have transformed his message into a stone building. For Christ said” ‘Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Well, I’m heavy laden, and they won’t let me come to Him. Today I’ve learned that the church has changed those words to read” ‘Come unto me all ye who follow our rules, and let the heavy laden go hang!”
Athena vowed to never set foot in a church again, and she turned on her heels and left with her crying baby, tears streaming down her own cheeks.
The priest could not forget her face, the forlorn look in her eyes, or the poignancy of her words. He has been faced with a philosophical dilemma, and he had chosen to show respect for the institution rather than the words on which that institution stood.
To read more from Brandon go here: https://brandoncapuano.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/naomi-zacharias-has-been-divorced-but-why-do-you-care/