Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Tuesday, January 5 2021
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:37–40
Monet’s wheat stacks were just outside his farmhouse in Giverny where he lived for 43 years, so whether or not he was under a shelter-in-place order, he could easily work from home (like most of us, yes?). I like to imagine him walking out the front door en plain air out-of-doors to the stacks of wheat where he could, as his friend Gustave Geoffroy puts it, paint “the poetry of the universe in the restricted space of a field.” From his front yard, he captures the icy blues and the delicate pastels of winter evening, “a synthetic summary of the meteors and the elements” (again a quote from his young friend Geoffroy). The stacks themselves are almost as tall as a two story house, and while we might off-handedly call them “haystacks” they are actually wheat—a sign of sustenance and survival, essential calories for the winter ahead—soon be made into a loaf of bread, warm from the oven: a sacramental quality emerges.
God of wheat stacks and sunsets, may the fresh air outdoors give life and breath, and the indoors, where we work and find shelter, give peace and hope. Amen.