FLM FRIDAY 12/2/21
https://www.gardnermuseum.org/experience/collection/10953 My sister and I have been discussing this painting recently. The painting, if you do not know, is Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. I expect Lindsey and I to have many more conversations about it for the rest of our lives. I say that because the longer you stare at the scene depicted, the more there is to unpack. I’m no art historian, but I continue to find meaning that rings true to the many journeys that we all face in our lives. It’s hard for me not to make comparisons between Mike’s journey and this painting. A turbulent and violent storm rocking the boat of a small community. The impact of the storm is affecting everyone in different ways. When you look at each individual you see that they have all assumed a role, whatever that may be. Some are clinging on for dear life, some are fighting at their battle station, Jesus is calm in the back with a few looking to him for guidance, and Rembrandt stares out through the fourth wall clutching his hat with his face almost saying, “Can you believe what is happening right now?”
I’ve started to put myself in the shoes of each one of the people on the boat. Trying to imagine what the storm would have been like from their perspective. I quickly realize that it's hard to imagine what it would be like to be in a wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee during the time when Jesus walked the earth. However, when I look into the faces of the characters portrayed, I recognize the looks on their faces. Confusion, despair, sickness, fear, strength, focus, perseverance, amazement, and hope. Just to name a few.
I’m sure you can see how we’ve made the connection between the painting and what this community has gone through and continues to go through. The looks on the faces of the people in the boat are not foreign to our community. One conversation with Lindsey, one visit with family, one memory about Mike can bring up a world of the emotions that we have experienced. And as tough as the journey has been for all who have been apart of it, I’m thankful for the community that Mike and Lindsey brought together. As the famous priest and author that my sister introduced me to, Henry Nouwen writes, “Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrow but make them visible to each other as a gesture of hope.” This lesson is one of the many that I have learned from this community throughout Mike’s battle with cancer. And so, I’ve begun to put myself in the shoes of each one of the people in our own boat. To look back on Mike’s journey and to really try to understand what it was like to hold onto every breath for his children. To truly wonder what it’s like to sit for hours and hours with no end in sight next to the person you love the most in this world as they fight for their life. To imagine the helplessness that Mike’s and Lindsey’s parents felt as they watched their children go through something a parent never wants their children to experience. To wonder why Daddy isn’t around. I can’t understand these emotions. But Mike and Lindsey have taught us how to look into other people’s eyes and be genuinely concerned with how they are doing in this thing we call life. My favorite part of Rembrandt’s painting is Jesus’s face. The only light-colored face on the right side of the picture, you can’t help but be drawn to it when you look that direction. As I write these words, I can feel Mike saying, “Rob-O, you better not compare me to Jesus.” But sorry Mike, in this instance I have to. If you knew Mike before, during, or are learning about him after his fight, then you’ve heard how Mike makes others feel. A stoic man who puts other before himself. And in his battle, Mike was the same man he has always been. Someone that others can look to for guidance. Calm in the middle of the Storm. Light in a dark room. Hope. My sister and I discussed this idea of a “Guest Blog Writer” for the FLM Friday blog post. So, here I am trying to be as thoughtful, honest, and vulnerable as my sister can be with her words. And I’ve come to the conclusion that she has held every role on the boat. Steering the ship, holding the sails, looking to Jesus for guidance. But now, every time I read her art that she posts on this blog, she has taken on a new role. And it reminds of Rembrandt clutching his hat as he looks out to the rest of the world. Telling this community and everyone that will listen that there is hope out there in the world, to Fight Like Mike and let God do the rest, and most importantly, keep swimming. - Rob P.S. Click on the link at the top or below to zoom in on the painting https://www.gardnermuseum.org/experience/collection/10953 And if you would like to share words that have been on your heart, reach out to my sister about writing a guest blog some time.