An ordinary holiness?

A painter accustomed to charting his own ageing,
lovely in his own unloveliness,
this teller of stories has chosen to show us something very simple:

an older father, tender, maybe a little anxious,
surrounded by the tools with which he gives life again
to once-living wood,
leaning on the wicker cot he has plaited
with intense attention
through these long nights of waiting,
incredulous of this daily miracle
of nourishment, contentment, affection;

a younger mother, his lately-arrived love
gifted to him so unexpectedly, so unwarranted,
she now marvels at her newest love,
gently warming his feet,
loosely cradling his rested body in soft fur,
her remarkable hands so unexpectedly skilled
in this new role,
feeding and yet finding herself fed
by the presence of this Life.

Across the scene,
a gentle, diagonal light leaves dark corners
but only so that we may see more clearly
all that we need to see:

a mother, a father, a child,
a hunger satisfied,
a promise kept,
an uncomplicated contentment.


[Rembrandt van Rijn’s Holy Family of c.1633/34 from the collections of the Alte Pinakothek, Munich]

2 thoughts on “An ordinary holiness?

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