Nature’s Rest

Nature’s Rest by Robert Duncan (1952-present)

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed o’er the world Thy holy light,
Shed o’er the world Thy holy light.

— last verse of “O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” by William B. Bradbury (1816-1868)

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The Avenue of Chestnut Trees

The Avenue of Chestnut Trees near La Celle-Saint-Cloud, Alfred Sisley, 1867

Deep, surrounded, overgrown, unknown. It is not long until the trees change and lose their secrets. But until then, they close in on a person. Or a life. Ever get those moments when you don’t see anything coming? Things hit you hard. The confusion and hurt grows around you like so many climbing vines.

You know change is coming, but in what form, you have to wait and see. Will it be brilliant, as in some years of the past, or will it be brown and ugly?

You can see the Creator all around you, no matter what season. He is the one unchangeable constant. The only one. Even the woods seemed less dense in the past. This path seemed more traveled. The deer were less sinister.

Landscape with Stars

Henri-Edmond Cross, Landscape with Stars, ca. 1905–1908 http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/459189

A million different thoughts running through my head. A million things I’d love to write here. Some nights my thoughts form constellations, recognizable patterns, and I can pull out from them a story, an anecdote, a synthesis of my day. Other nights my brain beams bright, but each star is its own self, competing for the honor to be written down.

Tonight I’ll let the most praiseworthy star win: I’m thankful for peace, the lack of despair, the smoothed out edges of a jagged summer. God cares for me, and my mind, and He really wants me to tell Him about all those many things I think of. He made me to think, and I’m happy about that.

Mr. and Mrs. Roussel

Mr. and Mrs. Roussel by Edouard Vuillard, 1896

Marriage is a joining: Mr and Mrs, man and wife, flesh of my flesh. But the minds still operate apart. As close as we get together, touching forehead to forehead, there’s still that bony skull in the way. The Mrs. Krohn part of me says “I am you; why are you saying these things I would never say?” The Amy part of me draws my forehead away from his as a little rebellion against the whole marriage deal. Sometimes I’ve found myself in the same room as my husband, but not touching, not connecting one bit. Bone of my bone, but the bones don’t fit.

And then there are times, even when bone of my bone is walking a different way across life than I am, tenderness applies a little surgery, and my forehead is resting against his shoulder. It doesn’t matter that he is still mostly stranger after eleven and a half years. It doesn’t matter that he can’t remember much at all about me or things that happened after we were married.

There’s a voice that God uses to draw us together. It lisps. It starts talking about my mind, or his mind, and it drops the d at the end. So it says “mine” and means both of us. I don’t know how this works, and sometimes I like to deny it, but then, I find myself resting my head against his, and I’m curled up in our joined world again, a refuge that takes me by surprise when I find it.

Lady in a Green Jacket

Lady in a Green Jacket by Auguste Macke, 1913

I searched for a calming work of art, and ended up looking at German expressionist, Auguste Macke’s paintings. Even with the bright colors, the texture of this painting is soft, not harsh. While there is something mysterious about the lady with her face turned away from us, it is a gentle mystery. She seems alone and quiet compared to the two couples in front of her. I like her beauty. I like that she is important enough to the artist to be the central object, and also the artist respects her privacy by not painting her face.