Temenos 3: Into loss

This is the third image in the series of Temenos paintings. The introduction to this sequence of work can be found here.

A woman walks alone through the subterranean passageway of loss. The fractured halo of grief around her head. There are many gateways into sacred space, the liminal place where we are changed in the deepest parts of our being, but the threshold of loss is the most painful to undergo.

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A piece of our life disappears, a person, a relationship, a home, a job; and we are left reeling at the consequences. Even years later the grief can resonate through anniversaries or objects discovered that uncover the concealed pain.

Many years ago, during the summer after I finished at university I spent some weeks interrailing around Europe with a good friend. It was the days before the ubiquity of the internet and smartphones were still a sci-fi dream so we relied on paper maps, a chunky European rail timetable and the goodwill of people we met en route. Ever the time optimist I hoped to see the major sights of Europe over 3 short weeks and so we attempted to do Paris in a day: ridiculous in retrospect. Our plan was to use le metro and pop up at salient locations to experience the Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and so on before dropping down underground to speed between the various tourist spots to emerge once more into the light. It was a curiously dislocating experience.

Moving through the earth with no sense of direction or distance or time before bursting into the day above it was hard to discern how these places connected and related to each other. Only time and wandering in the light would have enabled us to join the dots of these disconnected spaces.

So to emerge from the tunnel of loss is such a disconcerting experience. A piece of who we thought we were has gone forever. We are in unknown territory and there is a sense of disconnection between who we were and who we have become through the process of loss. Perhaps wandering for some time in the light will help us pick up the thread of our identity, perhaps we will never find it and the sense of loss is compounded so that this is not only a loss of that which we we grieve for but also a loss of the very idea of who we are. We emerge from the tunnel blinking and bewildered with tears in our eyes.

This experience of loss is at the heart of the story of Jesus. He gives everything and then, hanging in the bright sun, he shouts out with the ultimate crisis of faith and identity, “my God why have you forsaken me?”. He gave everything of himself and at the end experiences a deep dark absence. A void that his friends entered into, having centred their whole lives and their whole sense of self around trusting in Jesus they experience all of that ripped from them in his death.

In this cold lonely tunnel beneath the earth there are no comforting words to help. That fractured halo of grief splinters and cuts us. Broken glass to the heart.

Keep going.


The full set of Temenos paintings along with accompanying poems by Ian Adams are available to exhibit from September 2017. We are now taking bookings from those interested in showing the work in a public venue and simply ask that transport costs are covered. In addition an artist’s talk, poetry evening and/or led meditations that engage with the work can also be arranged.

For more information contact rjstott@hotmail.co.uk



2 thoughts on “Temenos 3: Into loss

  1. Spending time with this image it strikes me that the only way is forward, even if it is forward to an uncertain future, and that most of us will spend at least some of our lives walking such tunnels, if nothing else we can know that not only Jesus, but other pilgrims have walked this way with groans, sighs and despair…
    The encouragement to keep going is a much needed one. Thank you

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