Oil and Water
In our tendency to compartmentalize everything, we insist on the ‘either/or’ viewpoint. We find it difficult to accept the conjuncture of elements or ideas.
The different elements of oil and water are painted here to make a comparison between these two fluids. Although oil and water do not mix, they can nevertheless be combined. The same is true for certain aspects of the Christian message which are best seen not as ‘either/or’ but as ‘both/and’: body and soul, spirit and letter, Scripture and Tradition, love of God and love of neighbor, Old Testament and New Testament, these are some examples, as is faith and works.
It is curious that many other Christian elements come in pairs: body and blood, bread and wine, faith and reason, cross and glory, death and resurrection. Even some saints seem to come in pairs: St Francis and St Claire, St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila, St Benedict and St Scholastica. God gave us two eyes and ears, two hands and feet. Perhaps God wants to assure us of two distinct states. The ‘either/or’ tendency has been built into us because in the end, it is either Heaven or Hell.