Monday, December 10, 2007

white-souled

I was reading a magazine yesterday (the December Ensign if that means anything to you) and came across this quote from Channing Pollock:

"Some of us must wish. . . that we could be born old, and grow younger and cleaner and ever simpler and more innocent, until at last, with the white souls of little children, we lay us down to eternal sleep."

I'm not so crazy about the "eternal sleep" part of the quote, but I do like the rest, especially that sense of reversing the process of complication that is life and winding up more simple and pure than when we started. I do wish for this. I wish that instead of collecting clutter along the journey (see Julie's dream journal episode 12.7) I could be shedding layers like those insects that get more streamlined and beautiful each time they molt.

The quote made me think of my favorite nativity scene from Rembrandt: an etching owned by the university where I teach. As my eyes are drawn to the center of the print, they follow a path from busy and detailed to subtle and uncomplicated. Baby Jesus is in the center, of course. Rembrandt depicts him as simple and white-souled, as if he is the source of all light and innocence.

I wrote about my first experience with this etching and why I love it during last year's Christmas Art Advent. I'll leave you with a link if you'd like to read it.

4 comments:

Jen said...

Funny you should post about this today. Yesterday at church I was thinking about how as a child, my ward always seemed like everyone was doing so well. Now as an adult, its easier to see the flaws in ourselves. I think you are right, we are trying to get back to the innocence & optimism we came with.

liz said...

Monday always seems to be a day of greater reflection for me...maybe because the Sunday sermon has finally had time to sink in! Today I was pondering peeling off the layers we add to ourselves in this world, and specifically in our society.

I love the thought of our lives growing more simple with the passage of time and I love the etching of Baby Jesus as simple and pure. Beautiful.

mindyluwho said...

This past year I have been thinking "simplify". Life gets too complicated. I find myself jealous of my five year old and his happy little life!

I love this etching. I had to go read your link and then had to read some of your other advents from last year. I should have been doing other things, but validated myself with the thought that becoming cultured with pictures of Christ was a good thing!

Luisa Perkins said...

Last Christmas's post took my breath away. Lovely.