Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An Empty Frame: Tuesday's Reflection

Isabella Stewart Gardner by John Singer Sargent
What a treat! Last week I visited a friend who lives in the Boston area, and we spent part of a day at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which opened in 1903. Gardner, thanks primarily to money left to her by her father, was an eclectic collector, and the building built to her specifications houses works by Matisse, Whistler, Sargent, Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, and many others, along with textiles, sculpture, drawings, ceramics and more. 

Some of the galleries are arranged "salon style"--paintings hung in what seems to be a "wherever there is space" style. 

The whole experience, including views of nasturtium vines extending from balconies in an inner courtyard--a long time tradition started by Gardner herself--is a feast for the eyes.

What most intrigued me, however, was not what I saw, but what I didn't see. Perhaps you recall hearing about the 1990 theft of 13 pieces of art from the museum. None of them have been recovered. One of the pieces stolen was Chez Tortoni by Manet. Its frame was left behind, however, and that frame hangs in its original location. An empty frame. 

In a way I was surprised I noticed the empty frame, for the room is busy with so much art and the walls are papered in a fairly busy design. Once I realized what I was looking at --and what I wasn't seeing--I tried to imagine what had been there, what had filled the now empty frame. Of course, I wonder, too, where is that small treasured painting? Who has it and why was that particular painting stolen? 

Those of you who are ongoing readers of this blog know my tendency to find metaphor in most every experience, and of course, this is one of those times. 

Imagine an empty frame on a wall in your home. What once hung inside that frame? Do you miss whatever was there or was it something that needed to be removed from view? If that is the case, why is the frame still there? Is the empty frame a positive reminder of something important to remember about your life or does it perpetuate a wound slow to heal? 

Or is that empty frame an invitation, an opportunity? What belongs in that frame now--a new piece of your life, perhaps? What are you currently creating in your life that deserves to be on view? What does that empty frame symbolize for you?

Is it time to take down that frame? Or is it time to fill that frame with something new? 

We each have empty frames in our life. Sometimes those frames need to be put in a box and sold in a spring garage sale. Sometimes those frames can be reused and filled with more up to date photographs or pieces of art that speak to our imaginations and preferences now. Sometimes that frame with its contents is too precious to let go of and may simply need a new location. Sometimes it is fine just where it is. You get to decide.

An Invitation
Take some time to stroll through the house of your heart. Note where there are empty frames. What are you called to do with them? I would love to know. 

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