Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

June 21, 2011

Ex Nihilo

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Going into the Washington National Cathedral I did not look up.  I was concentrating on the entrance and the experience that I anticipated inside.  However, later as toured the building I found a bronze statue labeled #6.  Below was the explanation that from a detailed full-scale plaster model  that Frederick Hart used for the tympanum, this bronze edition had been authorized by the National Cathedral.

Well, being curious . . . I felt like I was on some adventure to understand all this.  What is a tympanum?  This led me to a new understanding of sculptures.  Here is where my learning began.  If I had looked up above the entrance to the Cathedral, I would have seen above each of the three porticos a carving.  Such carvings above the entrances are called tympanums.  The carvings by Frederick Hart are called “Ex Nihilo.”  It depicts the creation.

Hart is describing in these stone carvings the creation of the world and mankind by God.  His theology is absolutely correct.  God created out of nothing — thus he named these sculptures “Ex Nihilo” which means “out of nothing.”

Imagine Hart and other sculptors.  They get a vision of what a piece of stone can become.  From that vision a figure emerges — emerges from nothing.  I saw this first-hand on many occasions.  In my boyhood I had a close friend.  I enjoyed spending time at his home.  Everything about his home was different.

His father was Steffen Thomas.   He was a sculptor and artist.  He was of German decent and built his home with stone.  It was unique and different from any home I had ever seen. There were different levels and porches.  Attached to the home, as if it was another room in the home, was a large area that looked like a barn.  The floor was the natural earth and sitting all around were sculptures.  We were allowed in there at any time . . . but not to play.  We could observe this dedicated artist at work.  I was always fascinated to watch him begin a new work.  I could see  pieces of stone  — and they were just  rocks to me.  But weeks or months later I would see a form emerging from one of those stones.  Mr. Thomas had that vision . . . and he began to make “ex nihilo” a statute.

He did busts of many famous Americans.  There is a colossal size statute of Governor Herman Talmadge on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.  His works can be seen in many places . . . one being the Alabama Memorial in Vicksburg National Park. 

All this reflection reminds me that Scripture tells us that in the very beginning God saw nothing — an earth without form —  and from that nothing, God made this world and man.  But it becomes much more personal to me.

God saw something in my life.  And out of ex nihilo he made something.  I may not yet be what He intends — I believe He is still working on me — but I am so thankful that He has a vision and design for my life.  And I am thankful for the  “work” of God in my life.  It may never be completed during my years on earth, but one day it will be completed — and it will be glorified.

I am not the sculptor — God is.  I just want to be available for Him to continue to chip away until His vision for my life is fulfilled.  I am joyful that I belong to a God that can create a life out of nothing!

“Like clay in the hand of a potter, so are you in my hand . . . .”  (Jeremiah 18:6)



1 Comment »

  1. I am so thankful for all of the experiences that you have had and share with us. I think of how the Lord brought these experiences, these people and places that have inspired you to write, to preach and to understand others. Thank you for all of your sharings!

    Comment by doriswhite — February 13, 2012 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

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