A project for this year...a place where I will share musings on art and faith, bible and scholarship, nature and science, contemplation and action, personal and world events that touch me. Thank you for dropping in. Blessings to you wherever you are.
“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.' When King Herod heard this, he was frightened.” Matthew 2:1-3
Today, the pages of my 2018 calendar still thick, blank and unwritten begins
with a Journey. The Feast of the Epiphany, the Visit of the Magi (or Wise Ones from the East) concludes the days of Christmas.
I was lucky enough to be exposed to paintings of this event by the great masters since childhood and the story has held fascination for me throughout my life. I loved the way artists brought the Wise Men into their own culture; the way the Italian painters gave the Wise Men fancy Renaissance clothing, the Dutch masters set them in wintry European village scenes, and how there was often a special intercultural feature -- the men (yes, they were all still men!) had different skin colours and featured the three stages of life: Youth, adulthood and old age.
Scenes of the exotic breaking in to the ordinary, scenes of intercultural mingling, scenes of devotion are depicted in many of these paintings. The best ones represent a certain freedom of religious expression in each of the visitor's gestures, are relatively free of racism and represent a difference in the individual Magi's response to the Christ child.
Our responses as well are individual and different. For me, this Feast at the opening of 2018 invites me to expect the unexpected, to look for wisdom in folks who are not like me, to celebrate difference.
If you'd like to see some of the classic paintings I refer to, click on the examples below.