I’m not sure why I was drawn to this painting by Chaim Soutine called Young English Girl, but I was. My husband and I were at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris the summer of 2017 and I was immediately taken by it. Remember when we used to be able to travel freely, without worry? As for me, I took it for granted. I guess we tend to take blessings for granted and not miss something until it is gone.
Soutine was a Russian-French painter of Jewish origin and made major contributions to the expressionist movement while living in Paris. A trait of the impressionist’s movement was to distort perspective in order to evoke moods or ideas. The mood I get from this girl is that she is a little disgruntled and may be in need of an attitude adjustment.
Have you ever needed an attitude adjustment? I have. When the bummers of life blur my vision, the blessings of life grow blurry and become obscured, like looking through a hazy smoke-filled sky (we know what that is like, don’t we?).
One way to adjust our attitudes is to count our blessings. In our reading for this Sunday, Paul reminds us of myriad blessings we have from our Lord. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). Notice he used the past tense (has blessed us). We’re already favored and doted on by our Father. His blessings are already ours. We just don’t always see clearly enough to recognize them.
We could say God blesses us in two ways. First, God blesses us directly when he gives us underserved gifts—a sunny day, a good friend, a chocolate cupcake. Second, God blesses us indirectly when we speak words or do actions that bless others. The word “blessing” can be a noun (“She is such a blessing”) or a verb (“They were blessed by the visit”). This means a blessing is something one can both receive or bestow.
Being Human connection: May your vision clear up and your blessings come into focus. And then may you bestow blessings on others. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
Featured Art: Chaim Soutine, Young English Girl, 1934, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris