“Portrait of a Woman” – Seeing a feast for the soul
We walked through the Museum of Fine Arts. After picking up the brochure on the museum, and some brief study, I was informed on the actual societal movements going on in the world and how they affected the artists. One piece in the old master’s section struck me. It was the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt. He was considered a genius, as well as the finest portrait painter of the day. As we left the museum I purchased two books, one on the old masters. It was no surprise that it had Rembrandt’s “Portrait of a Woman” in it. The book went on in its description of the particular piece, and more importantly, the expression of the character in the piece; it dawned on me how passionate the artist must have felt in what they were conceiving to paint. I realized that looking at the photograph in the book was not the same as looking at the picture. I stop here to say that I could have spent many hours in that museum! What I learned from this, is that the artists who created these masterpieces first had to conceive the expression. So, what we are seeing, what we are experiencing is not so much a feast for the eye, but a feast for the soul. These gifted individuals have tapped into their innermost part and translated that feeling into a form of visual art.
… and isn’t life,
I infer, the life with the Spirit, like this?
We must follow the artist’s lead. As scripture says, the Spirit is not seen with the eye as He is inside you, ergo, contact with Him must be felt and not seen. Trusted and not fully understood. Humbled and yet fulfilled.
If we understand the artist’s genius, we can find it actually works backwards as well.
See your life or situation as a painting, photograph, or snapshot.
Now, this is the important part, be honest. Look at the expressions there. It may be on your face. It may be on others faces. It may not be faces at all as it may be an expression of the geography.
Now that you have that defined expression, we bring it to the Lord. This place is a holy place, or a sanctuary you might say. It is a different place for different people.
Imagine sitting at a table
I will share that I find that place by imagining sitting at a table. Perhaps a kitchen table. It is familiar and I’m comfortable talking there.
If the expressions are sadness, grief, anger, disappointment, He will often take it from me and give me an expression of courage, hope, determination, love, mercy, or trust, to name a few. There are many expressions He gives to us in our time of need because He knows us so well.
So, as I leave the table and return to the snapshot, I am renewed by the self-control of taking a small amount of time to share my expression with God. As a father, He always enjoys seeing his children, their work, and naturally, helping them when they ask. What is a masterpiece?
What is a masterpiece?
Now that I look at it, it is the very honest exchanges between us and a very loving God.
After my mother’s funeral, we had an interment several weeks later. For some reason, I was separated from the rest of the family and waiting for the funeral director and the others to arrive all alone at the graveyard. It had been one of those long, bitter, cold, lasting winters. Its brutality had only been topped off with the passing of a loved one. As my mother had been sick before she passed, it made for an emotionally draining passage of time.
This day, as I stood there alone among the tombstones, was the first day in the month of April that was a beautiful spring morning. Not hot or cold. The air was still. There was a light mist hanging over the stones with rays of the sun softly streaming through the trees. In weakness, and a tear in my eye, I prayed for God’s help and strength. Perhaps a reassurance? As my arms and hands went limp, as I exhaled a long silent amen.
The help arrived.
Suddenly, I felt my right hand being enclosed by a larger, muscular, yet tender embrace of another hand. The muscle memory of my mind came to me immediately. It was my earthly father.
God sent my earthly father, who was laid to rest there years before. I cannot express the joy in that fleeting spiritual connection. God allowed my dad to touch me one more time. What strength it gave me! The experience lasted long enough to be burned in my mind and heart. To God’s witnesses, these moments are ones which cannot last long enough. These are postcards to be cherished from the next world.
The comfort of feeling God
I hope you take these personal witnesses to heart to comfort you. It reflects God’s simple, and yet great mercies. I know I have, and will never forget the experience I had… feeling God.