At Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, South Carolina this weekend, I notice — as I always do when I am there in the guest dining room — the iconic painting of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ eyes are not symmetrical — His right eye looks more and less at you while His left eye looks off into a distance you can’t imagine. A single tear appears to be falling from this eye onto His cheek.
A young man across from me mentions Jesus’ “wonky eye” and speaks briefly of how strange it looks. He’s right. Jesus’ left eye can most definitely be described as “wonky.” I laugh, but later as I stare at Jesus’ face, I think: “How odd. Jesus looks at me with His right eye which appears accepting of me while He looks away from me with His left eye as if He can not look at me. He’s calm and accepting on one side; He’s crying and rejecting on the other side.”
Looking very closely, I notice the pupil of Jesus’ right eye is at the top of His iris — giving an impression of Jesus looking upward, perhaps toward heaven. The left eye’s pupil is dead center, but the focus of the eye is definitely not the viewer of the painting. Jesus looks off to His left into distance.
Whether true or not, my impression is that Jesus — in this painting — is both accepting and rejecting me simultaneously. He is offering me heaven and warning me of hell in the same moment.