There is a famous image in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which I had heard about but which I "experienced" while visiting my daughter in that city some years ago. The large statue of Christ the Redeemer, better known as "Christo," looms 710 meters above the city. In Brazil, as in many Latin American countries, there is a great distinction between the wealthy and the poor. Yet Christ stands, with hands outstretched to embrace all people.
In preparing for my trip to Brazil, my daughter informed that it was summertime. So I left my umbrella at home and brought two bathing suits instead! But it rained almost the whole time I was there. From my daughter's apartment, I would look up at the hill toward Christo. Most of the time Christo was surrounded by clouds as the skies darkened with impending rain. But I knew Christo was there, and that when the darkness had passed, Christo would emerge in the sunlight as a symbol of hope, inclusively and unconditional love.
Sometimes when we look up into the skies on a cloudy, overcast night, we can't see the stars. We know they are shining with the same intensity, only our vision of them has been obscured. In the same way, there are those dark times in our lives when we cannot feel the Creator's love and outstretched arms. But just as Christo is always there ready to embrace and accept us just as we are, we live in faith that there will be signs of the Creator's love breaking through our personal darkness.
It is ironic that my daughter and I took the tram up to see Christo during the one day when there were a few hours of sunlight. I was so awed by this image that I took a whole roll of film. I was looking forward to getting back my prints (before digital cameras), but was devastated to find that I had inadvertently double-exposed the roll. And so, all my pictures of Christo are superposed with pictures I had taken of the countryside, a waterfall in the rain forest, the downtown Centro district and the favellas or slum areas.
While double-exposing those pictures was a mistake, I found that they only enhanced my own experience of Christ the Redeemer who watches over the wealthy, the poor, the city, the country and Brazil's natural beauty. For me, that became an epiphany experience...a sign, a manifestation, a revelation of the God's love and acceptance of the whole world.