In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chinese box Christmas

We found this print, by Murray Jackson Wentworth, hanging on the wall of our old house when we moved in.  Murray Wentworth was a New England watercolourist who died this past year at age eighty one.  He taught watercolour painting for many years, and he and his wife wrote a book, Watercolor for All Seasons (North Light Publishers, 1984).  As an artist and as a teacher he helped others recognize the world's subtle beauty. He was a jazz drummer, too. His was a life well lived. 

I would never have encountered Murray Wentworth had it not been for this print on our wall. The former owner of our house, Elizabeth Hyde, received it as a Christmas card one year and liked it so much she framed it and hung it there.  She framed it so thoroughly that I can't open up the card to discover who sent it to her, sometime between 1961 and 1993.  There's probably a story there, though.  

Its subject matter reminds us of McNutt's Island and Cape Roseway Lighthouse, though nobody would ever bring a Christmas tree onto this island filled with spruce.  The subject of the print is a small story about the larger event of Christmas, about which thousands of stories have swirled over the centuries. Come to think of it, for the gospel writers themselves the Christmas story was a small story set within the larger story of Easter. 

A Chinese box is a series of nested boxes of diminishing size, each contained within a larger box. So at Christmas we cast this little print out upon the great wide world, like a message in a bottle, as a way of remembering quiet lives well lived, lovers and teachers of beauty, connections we are mostly unaware of, stories told and untold, each one folding into another, and the mystery of God that covers us all like a broody hen's wing.