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everyone makes mistakes: or the story of a potato Jesus
Dear Cecilia Gimenez,
I know that there are some angry people out there, and it might seem like the world is alternately laughing at you and screaming at you. But I want to share something with you dear Cecilia. I love you. I love what you’ve done. I love your dedication. I love your error. When I see the distress in your eyes I want to hug you and let you know that the world is a better place because of your efforts.
You took what was a third-rate fresco of an over-handsome Jesus and made an image that was a world phenomenon. Do you know why it’s so important? I’ll tell you, Cecilia. Jesus as an unfeeling icon doesn’t reach most of us. This was a painting you were moved by, a painting that you clearly loved. It was a painting for you Cecilia, and in your pride you imagined that you could restore it to beauty. You have restored it to beauty. Not in the way you imagined, for the potato Jesus, or Yeti Jesus, or the other hilarious names that are being used to describe the intensely flawed restoration you accomplished, is an image of mistake. We relate to this Jesus and we relate to your error. Laughter at this comes as a relation to that prickling sensation of knowing that you have made a mistake, but that you will press on and attempt to fix the error. We imagine ourselves sweating and wondering if the work we’ve done is good enough and if the love we have given is good enough.
Sometimes it isn’t, sometimes it is laughed at and scorned. We’ve all been there Cecilia. It’s not with a sense of malice that people post the very funny photo of the potato Jesus, it’s with joy. This rather bland icon, important to a small congregation, maybe, has become a touchstone for the world. You’ve made me happy and as I see the image of the Jesus in my mind’s eye I think of you with gratitude. Thank you Cecilia Gimenez. I love you.