Friday, September 21, 2007

Pedestals

A couple of years ago my good friend and I took our daughters to the Cincinnati Art Museum. Needless to say, our daughters were ready to leave long before we were. I am quite sure that my meanderings seemed aimless to many, but I was seeing and absorbing. I kept returning to an area where the pieces of art were displayed on pedestals. I was drawn to these extraordinary, 3-D works of art, because they were alone, lifted up, and set apart.

After visiting the museum I came home to a renewed vision for my own art. I started perusing ebay and our local indoor peddler's mall for old candle holders—anything that reminded me of a pedestal. I wanted to use them for displaying my sculpted figures.

Pedestals.

They haven't just been used for art.

Often we lift people (leaders, ministers, celebrities, parents, friends, teachers, authors, spouses, saints) and put them on these elevated places. You have heard this phrase: “Oh, she has him on a pedestal.” We have raised someone high above others. Glorified and idealized.

In doing this we want and demand more from them. They can do little or no wrong. We expect perfection. We place them in this hazardous place. We contribute to the set-up of a fall.

And you have heard: “He was knocked off his pedestal.” There seems to be a sense of diluted glee when you hear this comment. Maybe the person thought too highly of him/herself and fell. Maybe they climbed there through their own efforts with just a boost from us. Regardless, their footing was lost and they skittered or plunged to the bottom.

We forget that often there are rocks and boulders below.

We should not place people on pedestals to be displayed and examined. Our loved and respected ones (and we) cannot absorb the attention and be left unaffected.

People cannot sit on such precarious and precipitous edges. People cannot bear the weight of being alone, lifted up, and set apart. Eventually the lack of oxygen at such heights will cause dizziness and hallucinations.

Pedestal positioning and sitting contributes to:

Dangerous expectations. Delusions of grandeur. Deceptive security.

Be very careful and intentional in how you use a pedestal. This place may seem like an honor. It may seem like a place of respect and admiration. There is a chance that it might be interpreted as a high compliment. But in reality it is a temporary, holding place until the next piece of art grabs our attention.

There is only One who can sit comfortably in this place and have no fear of falling. Only One who is undaunted and unmoved by the height, by the exaltation, by the weight. Only he can absorb the attention and not be affected. Only he can be alone, lifted up, and set apart and remain the same.

Use the pedestals for him.

3 comments:

Mac Goddard said...

Wow! How true! I once had a pastor tell me that he was on a pedestal and people should treat him accordingly. All I could think was "God help him when he falls or gets knocked off"! He did and the fall was far-more than he ever dreamed.

I love the words Isaiah used: ". . .I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple" (Isaiah 6:1b).

His own words: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself" (John 12:32).

Isn't it strange that the grandest pedestal of all was a cross that stood on the town garbage dump!

Please continue to write; as you do, you lift Him up!

The Natalie said...

I very much appreciate what you have to say about Pedestals. People do not belong on them. As you stated, pedestals should be reserved for our Lord. However, I think there is a huge difference between our Lord and everything else that is placed on a pedestal. I think in most circumstance things placed on pedestals are breakable - some delicate - some may look strong on the outside - but hollow on the inside, some may be solid, but can chip very easily. I think about the artwork set aside - and it may be beautiful, but can so easily shatter...so much like people. God is the only one strong enough to truly be on the pedestal - i think that's why he instructs us to only put him there. He knows us, every detail, inside and out, and he know what will happen when we fall. I love reading your words and I love you.

martinrayvaughan.com said...

Wonderful...thank you for reminding me where to put my deepest trust.