Recently, I’ve been meditating using a book called “Looking at Mindfulness” by Christophe Andre.[i] He looks at paintings and they lead him to provide reflections on modern life.
Today, I joined him in considering the attached painting by J.M.W. Turner[ii] which shows the city of Venice, Italy, as seen from a boat heading towards the city. On the right side of the painting, the sun shines and the view of the city is bright with promise. On the left side of the painting, the moon is rising. If we were in the boat approaching the city, it is clear that by the time we arrived, the sun will have set and moonlight will reign.
Mr. Andre suggests that our happiness is very much like this. We aren’t “happy” all the time. The things which make us happy rise and fall, just as the sun rises and sets. Sometimes our lives are bright, and other times they are dark and frightening. The point of life isn’t to be “happy” and “sun-shiny” all the time. The point of life is to cherish our moments of happiness and allow them to define our moments of darkness in new and beautiful ways.
Jesus instructs us that the way to live with the ebb and flow of darkness and light is to attach ourselves to the one delight that never leaves us:
Matthew 13:44 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Cling, my friends, to this Holy Treasure, our Lord and God. Let us cling to the One who stays with us, so that our moments of delight and our moments of despair all make sense. May God bless your sunrise and your sunset, your moonlit nights and your starry wonders.
Grace & Joy,
[i] Christophe Andre. Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Paintings to Change the Way You Live. (New York: Blue Rider Press, 2011), 222-231.
[ii] Joseph Mallord William Turner. Approach to Venice. (1844).