Cave Of Despair
Our entry into this world is a baptism into a realm of darkness and conflict. In the dark cave of earthly life, we experience all of creation turned against itself. Brother is turned against brother and the barbaric and savage have their moment of kingship and sit upon the thrones of power. All knowledge and understanding is limited, and we walk by a weak and faint light. The shadows play tricks on our minds, and we chase illusions of greatness and glory. In this cave of despair, we fear that nothing the spiritual man cherishes and desires can survive. All that is gentle, good, and kind will be extinguished. All True love will Drown.
In the painting the knight’s beloved appears before him drowned by the horrors of this world. His brother appears before him as his enemy. The great tree of life stands in flames burning to ash. The knight foresees his own death in the tombstone and skull that appear before him. He knows the forces which stand against him are too great, one way or another his death is assured and inevitable. His hope lies not in the belief that he will be spared his crucifixion, but that when that great storm is passed, he will rise again. In the one ray of light that enters the cave, a phoenix and a butterfly are illuminated. This is a message from God that his suffering is not without purpose, a message that he will be transformed and rise again a new creature after his baptism into darkness and death is complete. He will be born into a new world where his spiritual man will be realized and given rest. The crown of thorns and nails which lie on the stone behind the knight remind us that God's own son walked this path into darkness and death and rose again. In Christ’s agony, he asked for relief and was given bitter vinegar to drink. We also at times ask for relief in this world and receive a bitter cup instead, yet one day, it will all be pronounced finished. As the lord rose again so shall we.