My best friend Emilia and I went to the Worcester Art Museum (WAM) last week. It wasn’t our first visit, in fact, WAM has become one of my favorite museums around. We were excited to see a traveling exhibit: Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery London. It was wonderful to see the paintings and photographs and read the stories behind these works of art. One painting in particular made us laugh, it was a painting of David Garrick and Eva Maria Garrick, 1772-1773 painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. We laughed because it was in a section of the exhibit depicting wedding portraits, and we joked that Neill and I should pose similarly on our wedding day. It looks a bit like David is telling the same story that Eva Maria has heard a million times, and yet she loves him. At least, this was how Em and I were interpreting the painting and that’s what kept making us laugh. Yes, we became “those people” at the art museum for a moment!
The actual description of the painting related that when David and Eva Maria sat for this portrait, they had been married for twenty-four years, “and the warmth and ease of their partnership is evident in the picture.” What’s more, David and Eva Maria were more “normal” than many of the towering figures of nobility one would imagine in a portrait like this. He was an actor and theater manager and she was an internationally celebrated dancer. For whatever reason, Em and I were drawn to this portrait as it was so much warmer and yes, there was an ease here, unlike some of the stiffer portraits one often sees of married couples from this time period.
A true gift that we can experience in life is relationships with people that are warm and make us feel at ease. Maybe that’s with a spouse. That could also be with a friend or family member. But we know that there are people with whom we can be our authentic selves. People who see us and appreciate us for who we are and for who we are becoming. My deep hope and thought for this week is that everyone has someone like this in their lives. And that we even come to a place in our faith journey where we feel that sense of warmth and ease in the presence of God. Some Christian mystics even speak in more “romantic” terms about God and humanity. Julian of Norwich wrote Revelations of Divine Love to convey her understanding of the radical love of God. We remember from scripture, “God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.” (1 John 4:16) May we have hearts wide open to giving and receiving love.
Photo by Rev. Lauren Lorincz of David Garrick and Eva Maria Garrick, 1772-1773, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds (English, 1723-1792)
Thursday Thoughts 3/17/22