Have you ever thrilled beneath scarlet maples with rain-soaked limbs? Smelled salty wetness saturating long grasses along beachfronts? Such sensuality accesses a wordless intimacy that soothes, that momentarily pierces the world’s humdrum.

It is precisely this experience that Susan Vreeland captures in her novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue (2000), 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 relished.

Vreeland’s imagination places this canvas within the Amsterdam of succeeding centuries and what befall its owners; eight unrelated short stories speak to the haunting beauty of this young girl and her domestic world, one that that still disturbs, encourages, and soothes.

So what lays beyond those 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…” Such is preeminently gift and received with a kneeling spirit: Its beauty, related to the Sacred Feminine, still enlivens me.

Such was my experience studying Girl in Hyacinth Blue.