Today you are in for a treat. I have decided to recount Kyle’s favorite story from my childhood, which he refers to rather simply as “Bloody Jesus.” As you might remember, my third grade year was not a good year for me religiously.
One of the things that I hated most about Catholicism was Lent. Lent is traditionally a time of abstinence and asceticism to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert. What this translated to at a Catholic elementary school was a one and a half hour torment every week known as Stations of the Cross.
Stations of the Cross is a series of pictures depicting the events that took place during the last days Jesus was alive. Each station has a specific episode associated with it, along with a story or brief description that the narrator recites. And by brief I mean about 5 minutes long plus a lyrical recitation to the congregation which then responds with a sung verse for each station. There are fifteen stations. Three of the stations exclusively detail Jesus falling down while carrying the cross. I wanted to die.
So when Mrs. Baker (name changed) told my class that we were going to be doing Stations of the Cross, I was ready to gouge my eyes out with the plastic spoon I had packed in my lunchbox that day. I had prepared myself to give a dramatic shriek of despair, but she corrected herself and explained that we would be drawing the Stations of the Cross for the bulletin board outside of our classroom.
Drawing was something that I could do, and my motor skills were fairly refined for my age group. As I beamed with excitement at the barely escaped doom of Lenten torture, Mrs. Baker’s rheumy eyes blinked forgetfully.
“Oh, we have twenty children. Five of you will be drawing the same station as another student.”
This announcement perturbed me that I might have to share the same station as another student. I decided that I would simply draw the most masterful piece of art that I had ever done in my life. As I planned out my range of colors and style, I missed Mrs. Baker’s last note.
“And there is to be no blood or gore at all. We are not out to shock or be distasteful about these events.”
She assigned stations; I received the crucifixion. Obviously I was pumped. The crucifixion was the highlight of the whole ordeal in my opinion. The complete extremity of dehumanization and physical anguish combined with the radicalism of religious fervor far surpassed any of the other stations for me. I knew exactly how best to represent this event to emphasize the contrast between irrepressible compassion and our basest natures.
Carefully I drew the olive and sage hills upon which I imagined the crucifixion took place. I painstakingly rendered the wooden crosses with grains and knots as best as I could with my Crayola utensils. Eschewing my favorite cerulean crayon, I created a stormy sky of gray and timber wolf. My tongue stuck out of my mouth slightly as I concentrated. Neon yellow lightning streaking across the heavens in fury at the outrageous treatment of humanity’s savior.
After I finished meticulously coloring each individual raindrop, I turned my attention to the center cross and began working on Jesus. Blood poured forth from his forehead where the crown of thorns had been mockingly placed on his brow. The crimson rivulets from the crown mingled with the vermilion flow from the wound in his side where the soldier had stabbed him with a spear.
Cherry red droplets swelled from the injuries on his hands and feet where the nails affixed him to the wooden beams. All of these sources of Christ’s lifeblood flowed together into a large pool at the base of the cross. From there the blood trickled down the side of the embankment, coating the hillside in a ruby flood of plasma. Unbeknownst to me, I had created a religious masterpiece that Mel Gibson would have wept to behold.
When I handed the paper over to my teacher, she had a minor stroke before informing me that there was to be no depiction of blood in any of the Stations of the Cross. Desperate to have my work viewed by the public, I attempted to color over the blood with a white crayon, thinking it would negate the pigment. The result appeared to be a Jesus who had had a rather unfortunate accident with strawberry jam.
Hoping that the nonthreatening pink hue of the blood would sway Mrs. Baker, I presented my drawing to her anew. Needless to say, my station was not displayed on the bulletin board.