Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Saturday, January 9 2021
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
In searching for art that depicts winter, I came across Peter Doig’s Reflection (What Does Your Soul Look Like?). With a title like that, it’s dripping with spiritual possibility.
I love Christophe Andre’s imaginative meditation on Doig’s etching in his book Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-five paintings to change the way you live. He writes: “The man out walking has stopped. In doing so he has silenced the rustle of dead leaves crushed by his feet, a soothing sound that accompanied him as he walked. He has stopped by this large puddle…gradually, his jostling thoughts fall silent. He feels his own breathing and notices his heart. His attention is held by one leaf that is half rotten. He simply sees it. He also sees all the others. He has no desire to move, just to stand there. From time to time a new thought passes his mind…. Then his thoughts fall silent. A glimpse of eternity.”
While Doig’s work is charged with reflective pieces like Window Pane, Grasshopper, and Canoe Lake, which also depict mirroring ponds, this one draws your eyes up and up and farther up still, the horizon disorientingly at the top, and once you find it, you realize the horizon was actually right there at your feet all along. The top is the bottom and the bottom is the top. It reminds me of the ways in which our own spiritual lives draw our eyes up to the ancient heavenward skies, while simultaneously drawing us back to the world at our feet—the divine in the daily grind—amplifying the ways in which we can participate in the everyday-calling to love the Lord our God.
Let us fall silent, O God. Draw our eyes heavenward, revealing yourself right here among us. Amen.