Monday, July 24, 2006

MASTERPIECE MONDAY #4 Many works of art can shake us deeply if we are still before their mystery, like lovers facing the sea. Henry O. Tanner's Annunciation is one of these works of art. It's hanging like a jewel on a wall in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and happens to be my wife's favorite painting. Mary, painted as a quiet and tender young girl, sits in light-dappled robes at the corner of her humble bed. All about her speaks of earth; course fabrics woven with callous hands, hard stone fitted into a cold earthen floor, and walls cracked and veined by the passing of time. But across the room hovers the Timeless. An immortal spirit, Gabriel, Messenger of God, splits time and space in two and peers gently into Mary's room, saluting her with a greeting that still echoes throughout the world, millions of times a day.... "Hail, full of Grace!" The Ambassador of Heaven is carrying a message, and the answer to it will split even earthly time in two. The light of Gabriel's presence pulsates on the canvas, casting a warm glow into the cool space of Mary's dwelling. Like a heart beating, waiting for a word that can bring tears too deep for words. And we, the ones who look on with bated breath, can almost enter into this pregnant pause, this womb where the world will be remade. If we are still before the Mystery.
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