began this painting out of sorrow for the children of School
No. 1 in Beslan, Russia, and also as a means of resolving a private
Children are helpless. Without a loving adult's protection,
they have only their fledgling selves to turn to for strength.
In the midst of pain or trauma they must comfort themselves
as best they can, by clinging to whatever hope or good they
A child dies alone. Even if he is in the arms of those who
love him, there is a point at which our efforts to comfort
him fall away from his consciousness. He must make the crossing
into death, and where he goes, we cannot follow. The painting's
title, "Crossing," evokes this moment.
I try to put the deaths of the Beslan children in a Christian
context, and it is too painful to contemplate.
Two thousand years ago, parents faced another tragedy too
terrible to imagine. Fearing Christ's birth, King Herod
ordered his soldiers to put to death every male child under
the age of two. The beautiful, haunting "Coventry Carol,"
often heard during Advent, is a mother's lament for her
babe, a tiny boy put to Herod's sword.
Christ's birth is inextricably intertwined with the deaths
of the Holy Innocents. The children of Beslan were Holy
Innocents as well. Millions of us have mourned for them.
I hope that their deaths were somehow linked with Christ.