Look at how Levitan loves the Russian countryside, capturing miles of blue sky with a few wispy clouds. We don't see the sun but it's casting warm light everywhere: on the farmers field to the left, the birch tree's white bark, the forest beyond and the wonderful field of multi-colored flowers.
We might remember Tennessee Williams play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The story of a terribly dysfunctional southern family comprised of Big Daddy, Big Mama, brothers Brick and Gooper and their respective wives, Maggie and Mae. At one point, with the dysfunction in full flood, Big Mama says to Maggie:
You know honey...we was never a very happy family. There wasn't much joy in this house. You know how some homes are happy. I thought coming home from the clinic today, 'Now we'll be happy here.' You and Brick will live with us and have your children here. And we'll help each other be happy.
Levitan's painting, A Day in June tells me: Stephen, look at all the trouble God has gone to, to help us be happy.
There's the secret of course: happiness and helpfulness go hand in hand. I think that might just be God's first creation-message to us. And isn't that what family is supposed to be: helping each other to be happy? And isn't that what Church should be: helping each other to be happy? And isn't that what living in the United States of America should be: helping each other to be happy?
One of the more sensitive displays of this I've ever seen was while sitting in the dental hygienist's chair one morning. And all the while she was cleaning and polishing, others from the team kept sticking their heads into the room and asking their colleague, "Can I get you anything?" "Is there anything I can do for you?" "Is there something you need?"