The moments matter when he departs. We are back again within the feel of every moment racing toward its end and every breath laboring through fear of what might happen next. And so we all felt the chill of dread when he told us to go into the boat and go to the other side, go without him. On the lake, we drifted where we felt we should not go, drifted ever farther from him, the night falling as deep and cold around us as though it was the lake itself. Enveloped by night, we no longer saw shore. We strained to find it after we could no longer see, wishing to be sleeping under long boughs where we could glance and see him still with us breathing softly. We shivered, strained, imagined the shore. And then we found him. The apparition wore our terror in such a way that we guessed it was doom come to take us. “It’s a ghost,” someone said, but no. Him. With us. Here again, come to join us. He had sent us, so now he comes to us, needing nothing we need. In the way he makes moments not matter, time not matter, somehow, in just this way—I can see it, just barely—somehow substance yields to him as well. Defers to him. Remains undisturbed by him. I see it for only an instant. Him. Is it you? Into the boat, he told us, but I would go to him instead. I would forget my expectations and forget all I know, disavow my fear of passing time and even my fear of substance, and I would drown if I must, if only it meant the experience might be eternal. I would walk. I would walk to him, if only it meant what was fleeting would be forever and the moments might not matter anymore.
Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Disciples See Christ Walking on Water, ca. 1907
From my other blog: a post about the life of Tanner, such as I can know it, and a post about walking on water.