Sunrise Over Calvary

November 26, 2013

Yang Xu and Fr. Dan Troy

Yang Xu denied having any artistic ability when I asked him to express with colors the hope that is in his life. His reply was typical of how he refers to his own ability. However, further encouragement about producing a work of art brought a slight change of approach when he said that he would try to see what was possible.

Two years earlier his response was similar when he began to make Christmas cards in the Columban outreach to people with special needs in China. He was keen to be involved but slow to declare his confidence. Within a few weeks of joining the project Yang Xu had settled in well to what he proudly described as his first job.

During those early weeks, he also announced with joy that when he received his first pay packet he could hardly believe that this was really happening. As an expression of joy during that time he bought a gift for his mother from his first pay packet. Two years later Yang Xu continues to grow in his own confidence through the various people who encourage him.

Yang Xu was born with severe cerebral palsy thirty years ago. His legs were always too weak to ever provide the possibility of him being able to walk. His restricted speech and the limited control of his hands meant that he never had the opportunity to attend school. In spite of the physical limitations that are part of Yang Xu’s life, he is an intelligent and capable person. The recent request for him to express himself in an artistic way led to the painting named Sunrise over Calvary. When he showed me the painting he returned to a familiar style of expression by saying the painting was not so good, apologizing for what he saw as the untidy lines.

The painting, as I see it, is an expression of his life experience that comes from deep within his own being. Yang Xu is not baptized, but he goes to the church regularly. His life has involved a long-term embracing of the cross. His painting shows the cross as a constant reality. However, his painting also shows hope, the rising sun that announces a new dawn. A physical condition that could have crushed Yang Xu has not triumphed over him.

Recently Yang Xu began to make greeting cards with printed images of his original painting. His meaningful artistic work and his patient assembly of the cards ensure that a part of Yang Xu is linked with the cards that are gradually finding their way to people in various parts of the world.

As expressed by Yang Xu in his painting, even in difficult and complex situations, God can find a way to bring hope.