Imago Dei: Howard's Baptism. Oil on canvas, 20 by 33 inches unframed, 25 by 38 inches framed. Completed July 2022.
Howard's beach baptism was unforgettable. A wide swath of beach opened up for us as the holiday crowd realized that a van full of homeless people had arrived. We knew Howard was scared, but we didn't find out until a few years later why. The poor guy had never been immersed in water! He endured the ceremony, letting us carry him out into the surf and drop him under. It took a while for me to realize that Howard's desire to be recognized outweighed any fears he might have had. The bible uses the phrase: "like one from whom men hide their faces" to describe people like Howard; marginalized; of little value; easy to overlook; painful to look at. Simply unacceptable to my friend.
The painting is a synthesis of two events: Howard's actual beach baptism, and the one he imagined. That is why Howard appears twice in the painting. The actual event was fearful and lonely. In the one in his mind he is surrounded by friends and admirers, and he is happy. Imago Dei. We are all made in the image of God. We all deserve a crowd of admirers when we make our decision to follow Jesus. Wait a minute! Do you suppose that's why all of heaven rejoices at the salvation of a single sinner?