Monday, January 10, 2022

Christina Grimmie: A Face that Shows the Way

For the past five years and seven months, this face has been among the most important human faces in my life. It is a face that challenges me, consoles me, and changes my perspective on reality again and again.

I return to Christina Grimmie every month, not only because I find her to be one of the most truly compelling “media icons” of the past decade (that sounds like an enormous claim, but I think history will show it to be true), nor only because she is one of my favorite human subjects for digital graphic art, in my ongoing efforts to understand and make creative use of its continually expanding tools.

I return to the memory of Christina because I need to see her face.

The whole of her gaze on life is more than the sum of its parts. I certainly never noticed this before she left this world, and it took some time for it to dawn upon me even afterwards. Now I know the sincerity, the honesty, the wise innocence, the humor, the unguarded vulnerability, and the courage that shaped her most mundane gestures, and the powerful clarity with which she looked at everyone and every thing in her brief beautiful life.

When she spoke those occasional serious words of faith, of testimony to God’s love, of affirmation of the inestimable value of each one of us as persons, she spoke with a kind of “authority” unusual for someone her age. When she looks at us and says that “we are loved,” it’s convincing. Her face, her manner, her vitality, her whole life are a convincing testimony for us - a communication of the gift of unconditional love and mercy from a person who has experienced that love and mercy herself.

Her communication became uniquely expansive, unconditional, and open to every person through her perseverance in love right up to its ultimate, utterly vulnerable expression at the completion of her life.

Her offering of herself in love won’t fade away with the passage of time. It endures.

I need to see Christina Grimmie’s face because she reminds me of the meaning and the aspiration and the hope of my own life (which I still struggle to learn after 59 years of living - so much “more time,” but too often wasted time). She helps me to remember the source of my own confidence, to remember to live each day, to remember why I live, and the One I live for.

She also helps me begin to see the way toward the final moment that inevitably draws closer as I grow older. She helps me to remember the promise of joy that is worth all the risks of love: the risks of living and dying. She reminds me not to be afraid.