Friday, November 1, 2013

Impressionists: The Artists of Light

Mary Cassatt: Children Playing with a Cat

            It was after the Sunday morning service and Mother and Alfred were at home.  Alfred had retired to his study with a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea and the latest issue of the American Art Review.  He was gazing at a Mary Cassatt painting of Children Playing with a Cat.   “How beautiful,” he thought, “the way that the Impressionists captured light and managed to convey the beauty of creation.”

            Suddenly he became aware of undue noise emanating from the kitchen.  Mother was banging things around, slamming doors, and muttering to herself.  Pippa the frou-frou dog came scurrying out of the kitchen and took refuge under Alfred’s mahogany 19th Century Partner's Library Desk.

            “Oh, Oh,” said Alfred,” I thought Mother was unusually taciturn on the way back from Church. She’s obviously in a foul mood.”  He drank the last of his Lapsang Souchong and headed for the kitchen.

“Well? Mother?” he asked inquisitively, “What is going on?”

            “That Mildred Hutchins, what a witch!  She did nothing but complain about Father Goodfellow’s treatment of Ima Hatchett.  You know as well as I do what kind of trouble Ima was causing in the Choir.  You wouldn’t think that the Altar Guild was a place for complaining.  It quite spoiled my first day of serving on the Guild.”

            “The problem with Church, Mother,” said Alfred, “is that it’s made up of people.”

            Mother shook her head, “Well, you are absolutely right Alfred.  People can really spoil things for others.  If it wasn’t for Grace Whittington, I would have just dropped everything, quit, and headed home.  But Grace, bless her heart, just said, ‘Mildred, I don’t feel that way about it.’  But Mildred couldn’t take the hint and just continued grousing; but you know me Alfred, I’m not meek and mild.  When I got my breath back I said, ‘Stow it, Mildred! No-one wants to listen to you complaining.’  Well, Mildred was furious and went storming out, but not before saying, ‘You’re new.  What would you know about it?’ I’m still angry.  She’s an awful woman.  Isn’t there a verse in Proverbs that says something like, ‘A cheerful heart makes a good medicine, but a grousing spirit rots the bones,’[i] or something like that.  Even if it’s not there, it ought to be.

            “Mother, I quite understand,” said Alfred, putting down his tea cup on the counter. “I was just looking over my copy of American Art Review and it occurred to me that some artists see light and beauty, but others seen things bent and warped and paint parables of misery and darkness.  They must be very small and miserable inside.  Mildred must be a very unhappy miserable woman.”

            “What misery is, misery does,” replied Mother, “and I have no desire to be like her.  Seeing light and beauty is a decision, and as for me I want to be on the side of light.”

"The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23).

[i] Proverbs 17:22  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

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