Friday, fourth week of Lent
"Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning." - Psalm 30:5
"Pink Bowl with Grapes", 1992, Craigie Aitchison
Regardless of the title of this painting, Craigie Aitchison makes it clear to us that these are not real grapes in a real bowl. The saturated color, so dazzling bright, affirms that this is the artist's world, where grapes hang suspended in perfect roundness against a clear scarlet background, and where a two-colored butterfly hovers exquisite in the center. This is so radiant a picture, so intense in its certainties, that it seems to have, as its real, hidden theme, the absoluteness of joy. There are no half-measures here: it is the all-or-nothing that joy reveals to us. There may be a dull brown layer, but it is held firmly in its place, at the bottom, sat upon brightness. Only when overwhelmed by joy do we know, in our very bodies, that this is the truth of it.
To pray is to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return. Who is worthy to be present at the constant unfolding of time? Here we are admist the meditation of the land, the songs of the water, the humility of the flowers, flowers wiser than all alphabets - Suddenly we feel embarrassed, ashamed of our complaints and clashes in the face of tacit glory. How strange we are in the world! Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for the gift of our unearned chance to serve, to wonder, to love life and each other. It is gratefulness which makes our small souls great.
By Abraham Joshua Heschel, the rabbi, scholar, and philosopher
Thank-you Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.