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Eternity 32 Tranquillity

/Eternity 32 Tranquillity

12:05 Monday 10 February

‘Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable’ (Benjamin Franklin)

In Wikipedia’s definition, tranquillity is defined as ‘how much you think this particular setting is a quiet, peaceful place, a good place to get away from everyday life’. Here the emphasis is on the place itself. If only we could find a tranquil place – external to me that somehow will impart peace to me.

Notice the difference between these two definitions. Franklin points to how we can nurture tranquillity from within – to create an internal place of quiet, of peace; set apart from the circumstances that press around us. The ability to create this gap from circumstances is a key to harnessing internal energy, focus, and of harnessing anger as a useful source of energy (rather than an out-of-control destructive force).

A guest to my studio saw this painting on the ground, and immediately said ‘I love that painting, it is so peaceful. I could get lost in that for hours’.

His comment struck me. The impression is peaceful. Yet I know this painting intimately. I know its history. At one point I was ready to discard it in frustration. It was too sweet. Too nice. It wasn’t real. At that point I used it as a test canvas for a black and white texture concoction I painted heavily right across it’s mid-section. I know the scars it carries, the mistakes and bold brush strokes attempted with no turning back. I saw this canvas as something of a battleground that I had been working on from the beginning of this series 3 months ago.

Yet the more I tested it, and even beat it up, the more it matured into something beautiful. It was not disturbed at the trifles.

As I look at it now, it is as though I am meeting with an adult who knows the scars of life, of battle, and yet exudes inner peace. In such a person there is tranquillity, that quality that transcends trifles, accidents common or unavoidable.

What do you see in this painting? Notice the influence of the reflection paintings from this series. It is the water that carries the details of a reflected cloud formation spreading overhead. The sun is a broken reflection in the water, as though it picks up the unseen sun hidden behind the clouds in the sky.

I think of the words of Jesus from his Sermon on the Mount ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’.

The pure heart is often a broken heart that has found the pathway to healing, of seeking, of desiring. As such it reflects something of God’s own heart for his people. The pure heart sees something that others miss.

To intend the good, to decide in favour of the good, is only the beginning. It must penetrate from that intimate part of us where with such mysterious ease, we are in control, into the chaotic, resistant space of things and pressures, the world of action and encounter, of being and growing and self-fulfillment.  (Romano Guardini)