Monday, January 14, 2013

On Vermeyen and Word Becoming Flesh

Our dining room has three new windows, installed last week. They are lovely but also contrast with the ceiling, which has big water stain on it from the radiator upstairs in our younger son's bedroom. The hardwood floors need refurbishing, if not rebuilding. The white paint is chipping off the window sills where we put an air conditioner in every summer. And so I am thinking about the walls and what I want to put on them once our budget finds room for us to repaint the room and possibly have a carpenter we know install some wainscoting.

This room holds memories. It has hosted baptismal parties, baby showers for friend, nearly every single one of our boys' birthday parties, almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter dinners we have celebrated as a family.

I was mindlessly googling and perusing etsy I like the idea of something liturgical for the walls. But a reproduction of the "Last Supper" is not our style. In my wanderings, I stumbled upon this painting. It took me quite a while to figure out who created this scene, "Marriage at Cana." It moves me so much, cannot stop looking at it.

Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen was a Dutch painter, and a tapestry designer, too. He was born about 1500 and died when he was nearly 60. The painting shows the reaction of wedding guests at Cana, where Jesus performed his first public miracle, turning water into wine. "Vermeyen composed an intimate painting, skillfully applying light where needed. Please note the date: 1530, many years before Caravaggio, the master of chiaroscuro, was born."

The painting provokes me because it is human and intimate and it evokes the shadows and the light. It also reminds me that Christ came in the the middle of humanity, into our music making, our eating, our gossiping and our ennui.

You see, this painting reminds me "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14) He is a presence as we eat and nurture our family and friends. He knows about our inadequacies, internal and external. And yet He dwells among us still.


  1. Allison - I do this kind of thing all the time, but just wanted to let you know you repeated yourself in the second paragraph of this wonderful post...

    1. Paula: Fixed it (I think!) I am just relieved to know I have at least one reader. Thank you and I hope those projects of yours are going well.