Leopold Graf von Kalckreuth, Children by the Christmas Tree

After I woke up from my nap, there was an unusual noise and bustle in the house and the smell of cookies. Marta took me and Anna on a walk and brought the sled so that she could pull us when we got tired. I loved the distinctive squeak-crunch sound the snow made as we … Continue reading Leopold Graf von Kalckreuth, Children by the Christmas Tree

Wouter Johannes van Troostwijk, The Raampoort in Amsterdam, 1809

After a night of half sleep in damp straw, I sneak out of the falling-down barn into the thick, white air. My feet are still wet and cold. My back still aches. But I barely feel these discomforts anymore. They are no more than nagging. What I can't ignore—what flashes bright and insistently at the … Continue reading Wouter Johannes van Troostwijk, The Raampoort in Amsterdam, 1809

Dorothea Lange, End of an Era: Funeral Cortege in a Small Valley Town, California, 1938

Uncle Bob was the last of the elder generation to go. It started when my great-aunt Louisa passed two years ago. A steady stream of the older generation falling away: Uncle Larry and Aunt Kay died within days of each other in their home, too weak to tolerate the flu, the doc said. My mother … Continue reading Dorothea Lange, End of an Era: Funeral Cortege in a Small Valley Town, California, 1938

Dormition Cathedral, Vladimir, 12th Century

Its stone walls stood sentinel on the tall embankment overlooking the Klyazma River, which wended its way sluggishly through an ocean of marshy green meadows. One end of the building swelled away from them toward the sunrise like an overripe fruit ready to burst. The other walls stood erect and prim, a musical rhythm in … Continue reading Dormition Cathedral, Vladimir, 12th Century

Anne Brigman, The Breeze, 1910

Up here—shrouded in mist and the scent of pine, a halo of fuzzy golden light surrounding my fragile silhouette—I am like a goddess. And so I strip myself of those most dull human identifiers. My hip-length jacket with the brass buttons that march up my torso, and my wide-brimmed hat with the plumage of feathers … Continue reading Anne Brigman, The Breeze, 1910

Rebecca Davis, Honeycomb Quilt, 1846

Before it happened, I was stitching together the red-orange flower that would eventually find its home at the far edge of my quilt. I was bone tired after a day of cleaning and cooking and running after the children, and this was a special time of reflection. There is something divine in the devising of … Continue reading Rebecca Davis, Honeycomb Quilt, 1846

Agnes Martin, Flower in the Wind, 1963

What is it about the desert that makes me feel so at peace? Maybe it is its subtle, sun-faded colors. Its boundlessness. The fact that it is at once monotonous and variegated. The way the rows upon rows of sagebrush slide out into the horizon, greens and silvers fading into silvers and tans. There are … Continue reading Agnes Martin, Flower in the Wind, 1963

Chi Rho Iota Page, The Book of Kells, 800

I am one of three who toils on this page. We are brothers in the scriptorium of Iona. Our abbey is on a windy and wet promontory. Isolated. An ideal place to contemplate our Heavenly Father, the Trinity, the Gospel. This morning, after tending the kitchen fires, I came to the scriptorium as I do … Continue reading Chi Rho Iota Page, The Book of Kells, 800