IVP - Strangely Dim - From the Heart

March 11, 2005

From the Heart

by David A. Zimmerman
It was a bright and sunny Valentine’s day this year. I opened a card from my wife before leaving for work. Then I had a conversation about how blood is represented by black ink in comic books. Then I had a conversation with a friend who had just cut his wrist. Then I went to donate blood.

On that particular Valentine’s day, red didn’t so much symbolize love and affection as it did blood—which, if you think about it, is appropriate. The heart, which we celebrate so zealously every February 14, doesn’t pump out chocolate or liqueur or butter cream or caramel; it pumps out blood. And blood is as symbolically potent as a thing can get. Blood is lifeforce; blood is genetics; blood is patriotism; blood is covenant.

What we do with our blood, consequently, has its own symbolic potency. When we portray it in our artwork we are conveying an intensity of experience that can’t be reached with other images. When we spill our own blood we are sending a message to ourselves and others that our life is slipping away, that our internal conflicts can no longer be held in. When we give our blood we acknowledge our interdependence. Blood may be a lot of things, but it is not easily ignored.

But it’s one thing to acknowledge that blood has entered the picture; it’s quite another to know what to do with it. Blood demands but doesn’t presume a response: I don’t give blood knowing when it will be used or who will use it. The image of blood in art and film propels the story forward rather than ending the tale. My friend cut his wrist without knowing what his next move would be.

Like Valentine’s day, Easter has taken on the character of cute little bunnies and cute little eggs, but in its origins it is marked by blood. On Maundy Thursday we hear Jesus compare his blood to the wine that slakes thirst and the covenant promise of God to his creation. On Good Friday we witness the torture and crucifixion of Jesus and we hear the crowd shout “His blood be on us and our children.” On Saturday we cover over his blood in the hopes that our shame and his pain can be outlived. And on Sunday, by his stripes we are healed, and by his blood he conquers even death.

Blood is never an ending; blood is a beginning. Blood marks not the end of life but the beginning of death, and if we take it seriously, it can mark the beginning of resurrection.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 11, 2005 7:54 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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