PREPENT DAY 10
Elul 10 5775 – August 25 2015
A pretty young woman entered the gallery in stride, looked around the paintings for about five seconds before pulling out her smartphone, posing in front of one of the large panels, smiling wide and clicking. Two seconds later her status was doubtlessly up and she was out of there.
I admit to being a bit judgemental. The gallery is the orangerie at the edge of the Louvre Gardens and the paintings are Monet’s famed, Water Lilies Arranged in their own specially built oval rooms with natural sunlight, larger than life and magnificent, hypnotic.
The Orangerie was my first official tourist destination in Paris for no specific reason other than the fact that it seemed an appropriate nod to the the visual wealth of this city, plus it was open on Mondays while most museums are not.
We spent some time just sitting there, looking at the lilies painted by Monet for many decades, noticing how the light changes above us and how it affected the paintings, just as if we’d be sitting by the ponds themselves all those many years ago, or still, right now. It made me think about and appreciate the virtue of patience. How else can one appreciate the process, the delicacy of that which emerges? We’re so used to express results, super speed download, instant gratification. That young tourist’s attitude is nothing unusual – just more striking in the presence of these panels that echo the eternal in such soft, sublime and soothing tones.
The versions of the water lilies on display here are part of the 12 paintings series Monet completed in 1918, intended to be displayed side by side in specially made oval rooms where we could view them according to his vision of “the illusion of an endless hole, of water without horizon or bank,” meant to create “the refuge of a peaceful meditation in the center of a flowering aquarium.”
That’s exactly what it felt like. A respite from the rush of life, a pause amid the ponds, a reminder of the need for patience in order to appreciate what’s really happening within, beyond.
On day 10 of Prepent, I pause to ponder my own ponds of patience and what I can do to cultivate them further, deeper, less attached to quick results and slowly painting the larger canvas of my life. What’s one area in my life that could benefit from being more patient? In Hebrew the word for patience is Savlanut – related to the root of Sevel – suffering. There is something here to learn in the modern fast pace of smartphone and selfies – not to suffer exactly but to appreciate what slowness offers even when your tourist-through-life-timeline is too pressing for a pause. In Buddhist lore the, lotus, another water lily is the auspicious symbol of transformation: Rising from the deep dung on the bottom of the pond is the most noble of flowers, blossoming within our heart.
Om, Merci, Monsieur Monet.
30 days to go