THE NIGHT THE SUN ROSE — Art and Inspiration by Marc Chagall
Grief and Relief are such strange bedfellows, you’d think one would kick the other out of bed. But he doesn’t. Oh, no. No such luck for you. It’s anyone’s guess whether they’re making love or beating each other up while you’re trying to sleep and they’re rolling around together wrinkling your sheets, tearing at the thin fabric that’s supposed to hide you from faces of the smiling world outside.
Grief’s on top. He calls in a horned beast with a ring in her nose to play a melancholy tune while he makes sure you know you’re Alone. Not Lonely. Although he brings you that later. But Alone. He doesn’t care how many edifying words friends say to you, how many arms circle you, Empty is the special gift he foists on you because you were so careless as to open your heart to Love. Stupid mortal. He wraps Alone up tight in Regret and throws it at you.
If only… I should have … Why didn’t I… Why did I?
Grief gets you breathing hard, panting like a dog staked out in the sun. You have sweat rolling down your neck, or is that tears? And he blows out fragrant memories that blossomed like trees full of Indigo petals on the hillside of your youth. Daisies of laughter dance in to clash with your sobs. There you are. Your face is looking over a hill and a cloven hoofed beast is guarding you. All your loved ones are in their prime. You feel the pulse of their lives. Now you see them. Now you don’t. They’re gone.
“Enough!” you wail. ‘I can’t take anymore!” You’re not just crying for one passing. You’re crying for the death of humankind. “It’s not enough we lose more to Life than we do to Death! That cuddly baby I had, he’s a man now. What’s the big idea?” you ask your Creator, who doesn’t seem to be listening. “We have to lose Love to Death, too?”
It’s rage that opens the door and lets Relief slip in. He lifts you in his arms and whispers, “It’s over. Your loved one moved on. It’s time you did, too. Come with me.”
And Relief holds you tight as he soars above the roof tops of your dreams of yesterday, the village that was your world before Death stomped in, again. Your house is scarlet it’s so full of your heart. It’s the only world you know, but it sinks into shadows as you leave it behind.
In the distance you see the sun rise in the night sky
A tower surges above huddled houses. The sun is red. The goat is white. Lovers snuggle into each other’s warmth. It’s a new day. And still, you open your heart to Love. Stupid mortal.
WHY THE ART OF MARC CHAGALL? The lively, fun, and passionate art of Marc Chagall is joy on canvas. So why did I select it for this story? It selected me. After the recent death of my 94-year-old mother, I was shocked to see how closely his vibrant paintings reflected my grief. Perhaps Joy and Despair are as closely related as Grief and Relief. I don’t know. I hope none of us ever has to find out.
However mere mortal we are, we are all marvels for embracing life.
Thank you so much to those who feel like clapping. It feels like a pat on the back to me.