Have you ever been mesmerized by squirrels skittering across plank fences, by rushing streams along shady creek beds, by hearts of June roses, by aromas of honeysuckle vines wafted upon breezes, by newborns gazing into their mother’s souls? Such in-breakings access another realm closer than our next heartbeat.

 

It is precisely this experience that Susan Vreeland captures in her novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, the name given to a canvas, created by the Dutch Neoclassic painter, Jan Vermeer, in the 1760s. And such a young girl she is! Her sun-bathed profile seized by an inner awakening, pulls her away from her mending, her hand, idle, palm up. She is elsewhere. An unseen presence companions her on her life-path, still to be experienced.

 

In the following centuries, successive owners of this canvas sought entrance into her world, one that still disturbs, encourages, soothes.

 

So what lays beyond these momentary gaps in consciousness, so unexpected, this stillness that dissolves restlessness and paradoxically opens us onto harmonious realms?

 

Susan Vreeland offers a clue: “… grounded in deep beds of contemplation, the only way living things can be stilled long enough to understand them…” Thus the heart of beauty is momentarily revealed and we rejoice.

 

Such was my experience studying Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Its wisdom still enlivens me.

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