Master of the Nivelles

By Lisa Hawker

I wasn’t raised in the church. I believed in a mish-mash of spiritual grooviness, and I was actively hostile to Christianity. But when I went off to college at the University of Kansas, I met two Christian girls who seemed pretty normal, and they bought me a Bible. Very strange things started happening and kept happening for the next 18 months. By the time I was a sophomore, I was beginning to think that maybe there was something to this Jesus. One afternoon, while studying for Western Civ (we were reading the Sermon on the Mount), I fell asleep and dreamed I was there, sitting on the hillside, listening to Jesus. When I woke up, my scalp was tingling. Soon after that, I had another dream, this time that Jesus was napping on my bed. Surrounded by a faint but rich golden glow, he was seven feet tall and dressed in buckskins. (Don’t ask me how then I knew it was him. I just did.)

Now, about this picture. Not too long after the second dream, I went into the Spencer Art Museum on campus. I’d never been in there before, and I don’t remember why I went there that day. But I ended up in front of this carving. The identification plate next to it says Master of the Nivelles Crucifixion. Belgium (Brussels or Nivelles), ca. 1500-1520. You can’t really tell from the photo, but it is as smooth as melted wax. I stood and looked at this carving for a long time, taking in every inch of it. I ended by looking at his face. And while I was looking at his face, his eyes opened. Not wood eyes, but flesh-and-blood brown eyes that looked deeply into mine. I actually yelped and jumped back, falling to the floor.

And just like that, as they say, my life was never the same again.

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6 comments on “Master of the Nivelles

  1. aweygandt says:

    Thanks Lisa, what a beautiful sculpture and story.

  2. Love your story, Lisa! I can’t believe I’ve known you this long (only a year!) and didn’t know it. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Jim Klassen says:

    Jim Klasen says February 25,2012

    What a message of God reaching out and touching you

  4. Faith Donaldson says:

    God is so good. He goes to any lengths to awaken our hearts to His love. This is a wonderful story of His love for you andI love how He knew what would get your attention. Man oh man,
    I can see why you jumped back.
    Thank you for sharing this lovely story of His never ending grace.

  5. Powerful story, Lisa. Thanks for being brave enough to share it.

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