Have you peered behind the heads of people who appear on video links, to see what they have on their bookshelves? The largest book on my shelves is a book measuring 35cm square. It’s entitled simply Vermeer. Its front cover image is his Girl with a Pearl Earring.
17th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer lived with his wife, mother-in-law and many children during a time of political unrest and change. One imagines his household might have been noisy, boisterous and cramped. Maybe painting provided some peace and privacy from domesticity.
Many of his paintings depict an open window from which light streams onto the subject – often a young woman who might be reading a letter, having a glass of wine, making music, or just musing. The light falls onto the fur of a jacket, the rim of a glass or the sheen of a pearl earring.
Where does your light source come from? The sun, perhaps, in the garden or on the beach; moonlight on a clear night; a candle flame’s soft gleam on a dinner table; a reading lamp above your head… and maybe also from the light of Jesus Christ who described himself as the Light of the World. Does he illuminate your being so that you reflect light – and delight – onto everything and everyone around you?
In some of Vermeer’s paintings, behind the person or people he’s painted, there are books, maps or pictures, scenes not so different from the insights we get as we scrutinise the backgrounds behind the people on our video screen calls.
Whether reading, painting, video calling, sunbathing, or looking at a work of art, let’s ponder and be enlightened by what we see.