In the King James Bible, the famous passage on love says
For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Cor 13:12
This is a portrait of my middle son Ben. The inspiration was a photograph taken in a troop carrier in 2011 when he was 19. He was serving on Herrick 14 in Afghanistan in the Royal Marines, stationed in FOB Shawqat.
Tragically Ben died 7 years later aged 26 in a training accident whilst serving with special forces. The photograph, always a favourite of mine, became one that haunted me until I decided I would paint it. One day earlier this year as I looked at it considering how to start, I noticed a strange reflection in his ESS ICE ballistic protection glasses. It reminded me of the cross. I have no doubt that Ben knew the gospel and in part the depth of love that Christ has for us. Whilst preparing for Afghanistan he wrote:
Through the turmoil of this uncertain world shines one constant so bright it is undeniable. The truth that love is the greatest of goals. True love is perfect, an eternal thought of forgiveness for the multitude of imperfections. Tragically the feelings we experience are a mere glimpse of this impossible perfection, perceived through the corrupt eyes of a mortal self and found solely as a result of the soul’s infinite quest: the pursuit of purpose. Truly unattainable. For love is forever. We are not.
March 29th, 2011
The truth is as the verse in 1 Corinthians reminds us all, we only see dimly, not the whole picture, Christ’s love for us. I truly believe that Ben now knows fully his purpose and has accepted the whole picture in the presence of Christ – face to face.
Acrylic on canvas
100 x 100 x 1.5 cm