We all saw the famous statue of “Christo” as we watched the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In Brazil, as in many Latin American countries, there is a great distinction between the wealthy and the poor. The Olympic venue amidst luxury beach hotels stands against a background of the many favelas on the hills above. The extreme poverty and lack of basic needs have led to crime and, for many, a loss of hope for a better future.
A number of years ago I visited my daughter in Rio where her husband was working at a school in one of the favelas. 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.
The day my daughter and I took the tram up to see Christo was a day when there were a few hours of sunlight. I was so awed by this statue that I took a whole roll of film. I was looking forward to getting back my prints (before digital camera and smartphones), but I was devastated to find that I had inadvertently double-exposed the roll. And so, all my pictures of Christo were superposed with pictures I had taken of the countryside, a waterfall in the rain forest, the downtown Centro district and the favelas.
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 visible sign that Christo stands, with hands outstretched to embrace all people.