Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

At the Summer House in Twilight 1895



Take a deep look. Is that a first star above the dark tree on the left? It is twilight: "Starlight, star-bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight." Remember that? Levitan loved this time of day - the time of two lights. Morning twilight: moving from darkness to light. Evening twilight: moving from light to darkness. 

Twilight is an in-between time. It is the time which suggests we're at the door or the threshold of something new. But notice this: the trees, the grass, even the sky, are more an impression holding the most important piece, the bright center of the summer-house porch, wordlessly offering this lovely invitation: step up, enter this place, pull up a chair, rest and commune in this re-assuring light.

I'm thinking of the Easter scene: It is Sunday. Twilight. The apostles have been speaking with the stranger on the long road to Jerusalem and then: 
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them saying, "It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over. So he went in to stay with them." Luke 24:28,29

Yesterday I found this on the side of my oatmeal box: "If you have time to cook on the stove..." followed by instructions for cooking oatmeal on the stove top which takes 4 minutes. If you have time?! YIKES! is it that bad that we have to preface a four minute meal preparation with "If you have time?" Well then, maybe the thing we might give up for Lent is the mad rush which keeps us from accepting Levitan's twilight invitation to join him on this porch of light. 

Maybe we will experience some interior soul-surprise there. Levitan has left the paint a little thin on the fir tree to the right making the tree seem to sparkle. Can I use that word to describe my inner life - sparkle? 

I've posted the Summer House in Twilight EXTRA LARGE, so we can feel it. If you're looking at it on a phone, be kind to yourself and find a larger screen at some point today.

P.S. If you don't know where this Lenten-Levitan "program" is coming from, scroll back to February 26 for an introduction.

13 comments:

  1. The night is turning to morning as I reflect on this painting, the light of today, replete with the activities of the world might not be inviting as the cozy ness of the porch. But I have the time; or can 'make' the time for those pauses on the tranquil warm beckoning porch. The Psalmist reminds us how much time we really have and so do the ashes... Peace to all..

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    1. And ashes are called, "The poor man's fertilizer." How will I nourish inner life this Lent - on my way to Easter?

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  2. This is our invitation to take a reflective journey with each other. I am looking forward to seeing these paintings through your eyes Father. You have an awareness and knowledge of the natural world that goes beyond many of us.

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  3. I had a good mother who appreciated beauty. She grew up in Queens, NY and appreciated the opportunity for a garden when we moved out to Long Island. And when I was a boy there were two plots behind our house which had not been developed. We simply called the place "the woods"- ferns, jack in the pulpit, different trees, the smell of leaves, box turtles.... It was all very wonderful.

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  4. Sometimes we can't give up the mad rush. Getting out of the house and catching a train or bearing the traffic to make it to work cannot be helped. So four minutes to cook oatmeal can indeed be too much time. But it is important to stop and take a moment every day to notice something new. And offer appreciation for the simple and beautiful things.

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  5. I wish I could offer some insight, but you say it all so beautifully. I do feel invited, I really do.

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  6. I expect you're right: "So four minutes to cook oatmeal can indeed be too much time. But there's something very off about that - that we have come to this. Spiritually, physically, we can do that for only so long before we have to start paying for it. I was talking with a doctor not too long ago about this and he said that we are not really "wired" for living like that. We have descended from hunters who sat on a rock for hours waiting for prey to pass by. Got something to eat, dragged it back to the community, sat around for a long time while it was prepared and eaten - then to bed. That's only to say where we come from - what's in our cultural/psychological/spiritual DNA so to speak. We live in a kind of insanity now. When I grew up on Long Island in the 50's and earl 60's the Catholic Cemetery was on Old Country Road. And it was just that: an old country road. One lane east and the other lane, west. I expect it was a dirt road a long time ago. When my mother died in 1991, I had to shout the prayers to be heard over the 4 (6?) lanes of speeding-to-make-the-light traffic. And for all of the zooming with eyes on the digital clocks, there's no indication that we are any the happier for it all. Mind you, I know what busy is - I taught for years in New York City, in my classroom at 7 a.m until 3 and then to do duty in an afterschool program until the harried mothers picked up their 4 year olds at 6 p.m. - only to drag the little ones to McDonald's for something to eat and then back on the train to Brooklyn. We've created this - and it's not serving us well. We are essentially spiritual beings.

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  7. What is the light source on the porch? It is lare and round like and orb of light. This time period would only know candles and lanterns.

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  8. Correct. I expect it is an oil lamp - turned up high.

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  9. As I was looking at this painting, I was searching for a clue to wether it is the twilight of day into night, or if it was instead the night into the day. That might be my favorite part of this painting, that I don't know. That star, could be the first star of the night, or the last star before day comes. That idea is so beautiful to me, is the day done, or do we have a brand new day to make better choices and be better people? -Katie Ditrano

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  10. A kind of awe-struck "I don't know" - that's WONDER!

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  11. This is such an inspiring painting. It filled me with God's words of promise. The whole post just gave me energy.

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  12. There you go - that's what a Lyrical Landscape hopes to do - draw a response. Blessed Lent.

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