I am not sure how you like to negotiate milestones in your life, like a birthday, anniversary or new year. For me, it is always a time to stop, look back and be grateful; notice where I am now and ponder the hope between now and blessed eternity. As I sat here and quietened my soul, I became aware of the old painting on the wall behind my reading magnifier. Whist I can’t actually see it, I know what it depicts.
The painting is a view from within an old country church. There is a baptismal font on the left of a doorway and a large gothic door standing open, revealing a view to an antechamber with a bench and another door leading into the graveyard garden. I can’t make out much on the painting as it is very dark, gloomy and predominantly in shadow. I can almost smell the dusty dankness of old wood and cold stone.
Today my eyes were drawn to the brightest line on the canvas. It is where the sun’s rays catch the top edge of the threshold. I gazed at it, more pondering than seeing. My brain was still thick with sleep allowing the image to relax into me before forming its relevance into two clear thoughts.
Firstly, this is a step that makes me feel safe. One with a clear shadow defining it. When I walk about, I orientate myself according to the shadows. The sun shining obliquely onto an obstacle, provides the biggest contrast in tone and thus, marking an anchor point for my ever-moving blind spots. Shadows, for me, are securing. They allow me to determine the shape and size of an object and free me to move without fear of falling.
The second idea trailed naturally behind. In my journey of life, the biggest shadows have become the clearest landmarks, when I open myself to the light of God. Here, as I write this, I find myself, looking to that peaceful garden and a lure to step into the antechamber of my life. A transient place for preparation and contemplation where we meet others who are coming and going on life’s journey.
In 2020, the darkness of a pandemic has provided a delineating shadow that has made us all contemplate life’s journey. It has been a defining year, a year of clarity – that 2020 vision we so glibly declared on old year’s eve. It has defined what is really important in life. A glaring understanding of our mortality and the opportunity to adjust ourselves as we walk, with greater commonality, towards the hope of a new season.
This brief interaction between me, my God and a step on a painting, has been a gift to me todayLook out for yours.