I was at the library the other day, and I picked up a little book on art written by Sister Wendy Beckett. You sometimes see her on public television, giving some discourse on a piece of artwork. Anyway, the title of the book was Meditations on Joy.
Well, I didn’t want to check the book out, but rather just flip through the pages and see what paintings she had selected to write about. This first painting, done by El Greco, caught my eye.
Painted over four hundred years ago, there is an amazing sense of the contemporary with it. Sr. Wendy writes, “Like the lightning in El Greco’s View of Toledo, joy does not merely illuminate our interior landscape, it transforms it. The world becomes different, marvelous and unique.” Interesting.
I have long been a fan of El Greco. He painted one of my all time favorite works of art, St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata. It hangs in the Walters Art Museum here in Baltimore, and I try to make it down at least once a year to see it.
I can’t really tell you why I love this painting so much, but when I sit down in front of it, I quickly feel a mix of emotions. It is an awesome painting, and before looking through Sr. Wendy’s little book, I don’t think joy would have been a term I would have used to describe the feelings/emotions.
Upon reflection tonight, though, joy is exactly the right word. Although his life was not an easy one, St. Francis was filled with joy. When you think about this amazing saint, doesn’t it bring a smile to your face?
We all need a little more joy in our lives. Try and find it wherever you can, and look for it in even the smallest things and events of our daily living. If you can make some time, take a trip to one of the great museums near where you live. If you’re traveling on vacation somewhere, find out where the museums are, and check them out. Maybe you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a bit more joy in your heart.
More importantly, try and find ways in which you can bring a little joy to someone who needs it. Imagine if we could all do that with just one person?
Psalm 100 is a psalm of joy. The words are a constant reminder to me of the importance of joyful living and knowing that we are well cared for.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;
worship the Lord with cries of gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
Know that the Lord is God,
our maker to whom we belong,
whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock.
Enter the temple gates with praise,
its courts with thanksgiving.
Give thanks to God, bless his name;
good indeed is the Lord,
Whose love endures forever,
whose faithfulness lasts through every age.
What brings you the greatest joy?