Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Musings On A Winter's Day

Moon Sonata by Igor Medvedev
I am struck by this painting; as an artist myself, I am absolutely awed  by the subtle gradation and use of light. There is something that freezes the subject of this painting in time: a moment that is not a moment. It is somewhere between the worlds.

To begin with, it's a moonlit scene that captures in the moon shrouded in clouds and a cold mist-and it's not blue. Many paintings of this type use blues, purples and stark whites for backgrounds and contrast. Here each element stands out: the nearly naked tree, the grasses and background greenery, the scattered snow on the ground, the stream and the rocks in it.

The synergy of the scene comes from the graduation of light and variegated fade-out of the greens.
Together, there is an echoing stillness and peace that radiates out to the viewer. This is how Nature really looks in the wee hours of a cold Winter morning; it is tonal and lyrical, using all the basics of an outdoor scene. It is a sonata, in every sense of the definition.
Winter is a sharp contrast to all the other seasons. Spring, Summer and Fall are all riotous with blooming flowers and color. Winter is sharp-in temperature and temperament. In many parts of this country, a cold snap is equal to a cold slap that gets our attention and firmly lets us know that we are not in charge of the seasons-corporate marketing be damned. After the joyous celebrations which occur throughout the later months of the year have ended, Winter firmly establishes itself.

Rightfully so, I say. Our varieties of agrarian-based spiritual traditions celebrate the seasons lustily and lavishly, yet when we come to this time of the year many of us are at a loss for religious expression, other than to cover up the sharply delineated starkness of Winter with greenery and merriment. After Yule/Christmas, my decorations are bare branches and garlands of red glass winterberry beads. ( The Carnival season has begun in other parts of the world, but here we wait for Mardi Gras).

It is easy to miss Winter's clever and indirect beauty. What we often see with our eyes is grey and brown and essentially dead; we miss the inherent beauty of  the process of decomposition and decay.
We do not comprehend the breaking down of what once was to make room for what will be, that the memory of what used to be heralds the reality of what is to become. Beauty is to be found in all of Nature, in brow, crisp leaves that nourish the soil; in grain that has been winnowed and fields that lie dormant; in trees which thrust their bare branches to the sky in exaltation. Beneath the frozen soil there is a place of warmth were the seed sleeps as it grows in the darkness.

As much as I adore the shimmering glimmer of the holidays, I am relieved when they are over. I am ready for this period of rest. I want to nest, to settle in with my books and a hot cup of tea; I want to sit idle in the dark and let peace wash over me as I meditate and go down to the Place of Deep Indwelling, where I can find lost parts of myself and reclaim them to wholeness. In Winter we are continually born and born again, we are vessels of regeneration to fill with renewal in preparation of Spring.

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