Into Brussels


I try not to look as I make my way up the final couple of stairs, but like a small child on Christmas I have to peek. I simply can’t hold it, I must see it! On more than one occasion I’ve found myself walking briskly down the hall towards it and if it wasn’t for proper museum etiquette I would run to it. It stands over 8 feet tall and 14 feet wide and it is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. James Ensor’s painting of Christ’s Entry into Brussels is simply magnificent. I’ve seen it on more than one occasion and every time I simply don’t know what to think. As my eyes examine the painting my mind is flooded with thoughts and I find myself being forced to sit on the politely cushioned bench. My eyes begin to hurt as they rapidly try to focus in on all aspects of its grandeur. On numerous occasions I’ve sat in silence with my head bowed and eyes closed not knowing what to feel. As I gaze upon this work of art I always seem to find new meaning as it speaks to me. Its abrasive colors challenge my senses, the harsh brushstrokes make me feel uneasy and its sheer size makes me feel small and insignificant. I’m haunted by this painting because it speaks a difficult truth; a truth that I have not yet to understand.

In the midst of a Mardi Gras parade an image of Christ is riding on a donkey. Perfectly placed at the center of the painting (I don’t think by coincidence) Christ is in the midst of debauchery, pride and selfishness. Christ is surrounded by figures that are celebrating anything but his return; he is the center but he is not noticed, he is alone and insignificant, he is simply a sidenote. As a look up at this paining I’m reminded that Christ is here with me and in the middle of the world’s crap. How can this be? How can Christ be in the midst of this place and still want to be with us? I simply don’t know how, but I know he just is and he just does.


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