Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Abandoned Hearth

David Creedon "Hearth"

When I look first at this photo I see all sorts of things I love--the red, the checks, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the comfy rocking chair, the plaster walls.

It's only when I look longer, begin to relax around the warmth the image brings that I see--what's that in the hearth? What's that all over the floor? And the paint peeled ... The disruption of hearth and home call clear to me. Someone, like I am now, faced the loss of a beloved home. For whatever reasons, that person, an elderly one, by the look of the room, left to never return, and the young, if they came, chose not to stay. Not even to pillage all that much. Jesus still presides over the vanished hearts of those he came to tend and guide. The cloth along the hearth still ready, with perhaps a shake of plaster dust, to support the family frames again. Most eloquently, the comfy chair still faces the long dead fire. 

How it must have once looked. You can see the underlying care, the tidiness that brings pride and permits efficiency, the homeliness that encourages rest and quiet times. The icons that invite protection of those who dwell within.

It is too easy to see this photo as something beautiful, kind of funky, supportive of our own poetic self-excitations. It is easy to see it as a trigger to my own sorrow over impending and long-cooled losses, now all hot again. But it is hard to know who sat there, and if he or she was happy, if he or she watched family, one by one, die or leave forever. If he or she was quite content and well cared for by family and friends. If a book ever sat upon the hearth. If songs were regular visitors there. If anyone remembers that once warm, once living room, anymore.