|Flight into Egypt ~ Francisco Zurbaran 1598-1664|
This painting by Francisco Zurbaran of The Flight Into Egypt is full of life: the mountains and hills, the trees fully leafed out, the heavy sky perhaps portending a storm or reflecting the desperation of the family in flight, even the ground itself. And Mary is seated rather queen-like, her satiny red dress covering even the donkey. Joseph's got his straw hat hanging off his back, while Mary wears her own instead of a veil. The little Christ sits upright in his mother's arms.
And aren't we fortunate that Zurbaran has given us this open perspective which seems to invite us into the dynamic. Is the artist suggesting that we might stop with the family and offer them our encouragement? Or better yet - perhaps Joseph is suggesting they might encourage us in our own inner traveling from discouragement to hope, from anger to calm, from bitterness to surrender, from something we might call darkness to renewed light.
Joseph ~ solicitous of the mother,
Joseph ~ in solidarity with the child,
Joseph ~ simply kind,
Joseph ~ active out of silence,
Joseph ~ in the fierce darkness.
Joseph ~ in the twists and turns,
Joseph ~ attentive to the dreams,
Joseph ~ heedful of warnings,
Joseph ~ in the poverty of your temple gift,
Joseph ~ in your interior life.
Joseph ~ with Simeon and Anna,
Joseph ~ in the expansion of my heart,
Joseph ~ holy traveler,
Joseph ~ among strangers,
Joseph ~ whose tears are an offering.
Joseph ~ giving the name, Jesus,
Joseph ~ in the nearness of mystery,
Joseph ~ on the road to Bethlehem,
Joseph ~ in the welcoming of shepherds,
Joseph ~ in your bright-sadness.
Joseph ~ Mary's confidant,
Joseph ~ protector and mentor,
Joseph ~ and the fig tree bowed,
Joseph ~ and the desert stream gushed,
Joseph ~ may God give an increase.