Life is Sweet and Short

We went to the Seattle Art Museum today to see the Picasso exhibit. There is much to say about that in and of itself but another painting by an entirely different artist from a different era truly caught my eye and captured my heart.


One of the galleries in the museum is entitled Darkness Into Light and it features several paintings done in a sort of  "Caravaggio-style", dramatic uses of light and darkness within the painting.

This painting that caught my eye is not one of Caravaggio but of a Flemish woman (exceeding rare at the time to be a working female artist) named Michaelina Woutiers.

The name of this work is Boys Blowing Bubbles (seen here at right) and I stood there before the painting for quite some time just looking at it. The painting is quiet and deep and peaceful.

Obviously posting it on this small space does not do it justice.

And as I read the explanation of the symbolism of the painting, I pondered it for the rest of the day.

At first glance perhaps the painting is seemingly innocuous, just a moment in time captured of two boys having fun but something deeper in being portrayed.

The bubbles symbolize the fragility of life, that life is beautiful and awe-inspiring but cannot be grasped onto. When one tries to grasp it and hold onto it as one's own, the bubble pops, and it is gone. I think it's fitting that the painting features two young boys, as youth is fleeting and soon passes away.

The candle extinguished in the background is also a symbol that life passes by very quickly and the open book is a symbol that art lasts longer than life.

The painting is somber and serious yet very beautiful and evocative.

There is such profound truth being portrayed here. How much we try to cling to the things of this world, hoping they will sustain us. We grasp at the beauty in this world hoping it will satisfy us at the deepest level and yet as we grasp for these things, they continually elude us.

We are made for something more.

A priest I heard yesterday told a group of high school students, "Don't be afraid of loneliness, don't be afraid of it. Don't seek to fill every lonely moment you have, for in doing this, many people have filled themselves with negative things."

The ache we experience within, the longing and the yearning, are signs of very good things. They are signs that we are made for something more. The pangs remind us that earth is not our final home, but that Love Himself is our resting place and destiny. When we give the longing to God, it becomes redemptive.

Seek the things that are above. Seek Goodness, Truth and Beauty.

St. Augustine said it best, "Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in You."

Amen, brother.

Amen.

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