Our Dream of God

Things can get really out of balance and unhealthy at times. To much focus on work partnered with and over abundance of access to world news can lead a person to think they are doing life on their own…everyone is not to be trusted … and we quietly whisper…even God…

This week I have really enjoyed the art of Henri Rousseau. He is classified as a French Post-Impressionist Primitive artist who specialized in painting exotic visions of the jungle. His story is remarkable because he never actually visited a jungle, but instead got his inspiration from visiting the botanical gardens in Paris spending time walking among the tropical plants. Self-taught, Rousseau  started painting in his early 40s and decided to retire at 49 to live more simply and paint full time.

Looking over his work, it was difficult to decide as there were so many beautiful paintings to pick from but here are a few of my favorites; my thinking and where I am in my devotions this week:)

When I look at this bouquet of flowers, I think of how we arrange our lives with too many stresses and how we neglect ourselves. Here are a few of the things I love about summer that I am putting in my vase to arrange a beautiful life…

Bouquet of Flowers c.1909-1910, Henri Rousseau 1844-1910, oil on canvas, 24 x 19.5 inches, Tate Gallery London, Image Source
  1. Warmer temperatures and sunshine.
  2. More relaxed time with family at home.
  3. Catching up on all the movies that came out this year.
  4. More time to read.
  5. Morning walks.
  6. Having time for my weekly blog:)
  7. Studying my cookbooks for new recipes.

So what would be in your bouquet of desires?

I love this painting of the wandering gypsy mandolin player because it makes me think about our journey to God and how sometimes we are just tired and we need to stop and rest for awhile.  We are wired to need rest but so difficult to allow ourselves the important break from our responsibilities.

The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897, Henri Rousseau.

Here is what Rousseau said about this painting:

A wondering [gypsy] a mandolin player, lies with her Jar beside her, (a vase of drinking water) over come by fatigue in deep sleep, a lion chances by picks up her scent yet does not devour her.

It made me think about how recently I have had a couple of dreams of God…and somehow my dreams have been changing. In the past I have always felt great comfort and encouragement from the vision of sitting on God’s lap…facing away from him as he holds me and I look out into the world…exploring and knowing he is their to catch me if I fall.

The dream has changed, however, as now I am turning around to face God…and embracing him…I am reunited with him as the Lover of my Soul.

How does this change things?

Not sure but this summer is about enjoying all of God’s gifts…all of the things that make up the bouquet of my life. When I see those desires as God given, I can rest peacefully in his kingdom.

The Dream, 1897, Henri Rousseau, oil on canvas, 51 x 79 inches, MoMA, New York City

The desire for communion…is God-given desire, a desire that causes immense pain as well as immense joy…The real danger facing us is to distrust our desire for communion. It is a God-given desire without which our lives lose their vitality and our hearts grow cold. A truly spiritual life is life in which we won’t rest until we have found rest in the embrace of the One who is the Father and Mother of all desires. ~ Henri Nouwen, Here and Now

Make it your ambition to lead a Quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. I Thessalonians 4:11-12

So enjoy this little cartoon from Madagascar. I include it here as they took their inspiration from the Henri Rousseau paintings:)



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