Last week I wrote about the devastating prospects of our impact on nature. In return, this week’s featured painting gives us hope, if we only get our priorities straight and turn our attention to nature. We see an old, degenerate building, overgrown with vines, the rooftop taken over by nesting doves. The roof has fallen into disrepair, threatening to crumble and collapse onto the lone figure below.
The hermit has left society behind, dedicated his life to a life in company of nature. Possibly he plans to repair the house and make it habitable for himself. However, his priority is the raven in front of him and the violin in his hand. He plays a hommage to nature, praising the bird that so attentively listens to him.
We are used to taking from nature, using it without giving back to it. By now, we use more resources than nature is able to regrow for us. We listen to birdsong, we do not sing to birds.
Not so our hermit. He is turning his attention and care to nature. He is playing music to the birds. The painting looks peaceful, giving us hope. And hope we may, if we follow his guiding and turn our attention to nature and our environment.
Artwork: Karl Spitzweg, The Hermit, about 1860. Oil on canvas. Seen in the Art Nouveau Museum, Riga, Latvia.