When this crate arrived from Utah it was like Christmas, Birthday, Easter, Father’s Day and maybe even pancake day all rolled into one.  I knew what was inside, but even so I could not wait to rip off the ‘paper’.  This wooden wrapping paper proved a little more challenging than the norm and half an hour later I finally got my hands on the contents.

I was in awe.

Inside was this bronze bust titled “It is I.  Be not afraid” donated for inclusion in the Pioneer Memorial next to the Preston Temple.   These photos really do not do it justice.  It is a totally different experience to see it close up…which was the intent of its sculptor.

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The bust is taken from the monumental scene of Christ walking on the water as displayed in the  Light of the World Garden in Thanksgiving Point, Utah.  The scene depicts when the Disciples were aboard their ship and…

“…tossed with waves; for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”  Matthew 14:24-27

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Angela Johnson, the sculptor, described why she decided to make just a bust version:
“The original design was created so that people look UP into his face.  They look up about seven feet into his face. The bust is different because it’s a piece of the original design taken out of context meant for people to get close and look into his eyes. The only way anyone could get that close to the depiction of Jesus walking in the water is to get up and stand on the water. (That’s not allowed).
When he was in the water the storm was blasting him in the face. The storm in every sense, is the metaphor of the powers of darkness, the sea, the adversity and tempest in our lives.”
Not knowing this back story until last week I had already experienced Angela’s hope and had looked into His eyes.  I had emailed Angela how I could feel strength and concern from His facial expression.  Now, with Angela’s explanation, the piece takes on new meaning  with the crashing of turbulent waves, of disciples crying out in fear and of the voice of power restoring their calm. “It is I.  Be not afraid.”    Just after this Peter tries, and ultimately fails, to walk on water and receives this rebuke:
“O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
This piece, along with Angela’s other depictions of the Saviour, were designed to capture the whole spectrum of His personality.  How someone can take a piece of clay and make something so lifelike and compelling is beyond me, but I’m delighted that Memorial visitors will get a chance to meet his stern but loving gaze.
IT IS I BE NOT AFRAID BRONZE side 1 ANGELA
 “President Uchtdorf told me once, I love all of your depictions but this one, “It is I, Be Not Afraid”, is my favorite.”
Angela admonished me,
“Never apologize for the stern expression.  I put if there for a reason. We are to wake up! and realize what we are really fighting for.”
This bronze bust is the first of many which will make their way across the ocean to the Pioneer Memorial.