The stations of the cross installed in the Convention’s meditation chapel (room 205B) find their reality in images from Monrovia, the Little Big Horn, a Sandinista police checkpoint, and the Sistine Chapel and seemingly incongruent objects such as empty suitcases, ironing boards and a piece of Manhattan bedrock.
The Rev. Tom Faulkner reversed not the way of the cross but its orientation. Instead of each station’s image portraying an event of Christ’s journey to the tomb, these stations follow a trend of using contemporary images to evoke the pain and suffering of Good Friday. Faulkner, the sculptor who created the chapel installation, said that the Stations of the Cross are about violence, suffering and death, no matter the angle from which we approach them.
The more he considered creating this chapel the more he was moved by the suffering of the present world. Faulkner’s sensitivity to that suffering was awakened in a concrete way during the eight months he spent as the American Red Cross officer in charge of the chaplaincy at the temporary morgue at the site of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.
“We’re trying to make sense of how God is incarnated in our world,” Faulkner said. We can do that either by meditating on Jesus’s 33 years and the horror of Good Friday or we can meditate on how God is at work in the world’s suffering now, he said.
Faulkner was commissioned for this installation and to develop each day’s pre-Eucharist imagery when General Convention Executive Officer the Rev. Rosemari G. Sullivan approached the Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts group of which Faulkner is a board member. He first saw the space last summer and his work in site-specific installations gave him ideas about how to cope with the room’s many doors and rules against hanging things from the walls or ceiling. Visitors to the chapel walk back and forth across the room to view each station. Chairs form an oval in the center of the room.
While some might expect a more traditional oasis in the midst of the controversy swirling around this convention, Faulkner said we must remember that Easter people still must go through Good Friday.
“I think we just have to go into it. We can’t just make nicey-nicey,” he said. “It isn’t a nicey-nicey world but we know God loves us.”