I recently saw this detail of Pamela Hardesty’s work, “Sacred Heart.” I was drawn to it immediately, powerfully, and viscerally. I sent it to a friend who collects images of the Sacred Heart, believing it would be a precious addition to a growing collection. Her response: “I don’t get it! What is it you find so compelling?!”
Frankly, I wasn’t sure! A question posed once to a famous dancer mirrors my own perplexity. She was asked: “What are you trying to say when you dance?” Her response: “If I knew, I wouldn’t dance!”
Sometimes we have no words or explanation for the power that draws us. The image evokes in me something primal. I am drawn to the simplicity, the fleshy-ness, the realism of the blood stained skin that is at once earthy and tender. The openness of the clean wound offers welcome and empathy.
Only after I learned something of the artist’s design was I able to make sense of my spontaneous response. Hardesty’s work was born of diagramming, erasing and stitching. So worn was it with human effort to express the core meaning of the pierced heart that the fabric/flesh tore.
Jesus’ Sacred Heart…so beaten, so worn with our “erasures” as we try over and over to love; so torn by age upon age of longing that his heart tears yet tenderly remains open as if to say again to you and to me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest” … Remember, I am gentle and humble of heart. You will always find a home and new hope in me.
By Barbara Quinn, RSCJ