This is a text-only version of an article first published on Monday, 10 June 2013. Information shown on this page may no longer be current.
A reflection on Gethsemane Garments Exhibitions at St Helen's, Benson. By the Revd David Gifford.
They greeted us - larger than life - as we entered the church on Low Sunday.
Stunning, colourful, carefully positioned, spotlight and natural light casting shadows and at the same time drawing our attention to them: The set of four reflective Garments by artist Peter Pritchett, on loan after Easter at St Helens, Benson. Low Sunday; after the drama and excitement of Palm Sunday, the tension, anxiety, confusion and roller coaster drama of Holy week, the devastation of Good Friday and the release and joy of Easter day, we were emotionally drained.
Time to take it all in, for those of us who'd travelled the journey of Holy week. .
This was our own Via Dolorosa. These cloths, each with their own reflective message magnetized our attention: the Red Garment facing us as we entered.
Deep reds, embarrassed blushing reds, blood red, red for danger, the red we could not walk away from.
The cloths that made up the garment were torn, ripped, stretched, threads pulling, threads broken, threads left hanging.
And words of Scripture printed on some strips of cloth. Here was the pain of last week's struggle.
Jesus' pain: our pain, our struggle, our brokenness and secret mess and the hidden embarrassments of our lives.
Many of us stopped here. Yet further away, hiding the font was the Grey Sackcloth Garment where the cloths lay hanging in strips: here were symbols of complete brokenness - no pulled or stretched threads this time - they are all separate.
Nothing joined up: everything at odds with itself. This garment with bits of sun bleached bones and seashells spoke of desolation, despair, loneliness and depression, of the utter dejection and loneliness of Jesus in Gethsemane.
It was a place some of us recognised, and it hurt.
Some of us could not linger long here; too close to our experience, too fearful.
Some stayed though; with memories we could not speak, feeling for others, praying. The sun and the Green Garment beckoned; signs of new life, new stitches holding some strips of cloth together and printed leaves with words of renewal and comfort, hope and encouragement.
Silk leaves too.
Still dishevelled and all is not right yet the garment speaks of the slow process of the healing of broken lives, the mending of wounds, of spiritual scars and acceptance after rejection, of the chance of a new beginning.
The sun was bright on this green garment, encouraging new shoots of hopefulness and sense of expectation, refreshment and renewal.
And yet people did not linger for long here either.
Why? - for do we not all seek hope and the promise of better things to come, healing and forgiveness? Maybe it's because we are impatient for the manifestation of our hope?Or perhaps we could see, in the shadows of the Chancel, the White Garment and felt attracted to its brilliance and gold trim, standing as it was alone in the gentle light.
One walked through the empty space of the Chancel.
It was cold there - like the tomb.
But we approached and saw now beautifully embroidered cloth.
Resurrection. A new body.
Shalom. Gone, the pain and sorrow, despair and rejection - but not quite; for this white garment carries a scarf impregnated with nails, long iron nails; it reminds us who gaze, that this new body was bought at a price - and that is where we came in - with the Red Garment .
Gethsemane Garments is a free exhibition available from the Westhill Endowment: www. westhillendowment. org It was on show on show at St Helens Church Benson for the 10 days following Easter.