Artist: Henri Lindegaard
Medium: Printed book illustration
Date: c. 1996
Location: From “The Bible Contrasts - Meditations with pen and line”, published May 2003, by Olivétan Editions.
John 9:1-12 – As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus said “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked: “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” They asked, “How then were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” They asked him, “Where is this man?” He said “I don’t know.”
People commonly assumed that disease and disorders on both the personal and national level were due to sin, but the case of a person born blind raises the question of whose sin caused this condition, that of his parents or of the person himself while in the womb. The disciples' question was a request that Jesus comment on this debate. Jesus shifts the focus, and instead of addressing the cause of the man's blindness he speaks of its purpose: so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. We should not be concerned with assigning blame. Trying to figure out the source of suffering in an individual's life is futile given our limited understanding.
Henri Lindegaard (1925-1996) was a pastor and painter, whose work in both areas was inseparable. There was never differentiation in his life between his vocation and work as a pastor, and his vocation and work as a painter. Born into a pastoral family, his Danish grandfather had settled in Spain. During the Civil War, the death of his father had forced the family to flee to the south of France, where the widowed Mrs. Lindegaard had to raise her two children with meager resources. A brief training in the Fine Arts allowed Henri to pay for his studies by giving drawing lessons. Known for his portraits in charcoal or oil, his watercolors and drawings, by the time of his sudden death, he left an almost complete series of illustrations of the Psalms of Ascents.