Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)
TITLE: Anna, a Portrait of Advent
By Ellen Dodson
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More than rituals, candles, and calendars, advent is an attitude of anticipation. Anna, the old prophetess who spent decades of her life in worshipful expectation of her promised Messiah, is a portrait of advent.
In 1631 Rembrandt captured Anna’s spirit in a literal portrait. He adorned her in an iridescent gold veil and a crimson gown and placed a colossal copy of the Old Testament on her lap. A wrinkled hand flattens the parchment as her pale eyes peruse the words above her fingertips. Her countenance is earnest and anticipatory, almost as if this is her first reading of the worn prophecies. A window must be behind Anna, as a swatch of light illuminates her hand and the Scripture.
Darkness also exists in the painting. To complement their shimmer, jewelers often encase pearls and rubies in black velvet, but the black background of Anna’s painting does not illuminate its centered gems. Rather it seems a figure of opposition, hovering menacingly behind her. Looking at it makes me cold. But, with her back turned against the darkness, Anna is undaunted, focused only on the light of the words.
The painting compels me to examine my own attitude. Is it one of anticipation or discouragement? If it were me instead of Anna in that painting, where would my attention be? How often am I distracted, fretting over the vapid darkness rather than rejoicing in the bright and Blessed Hope shining before me?
Prayer: Dearest Heavenly Father, when life seems dark and hopeless, illuminate verses and stories like Anna’s that remind us of the Blessed Hope we have in You. Sustain within us a joyful anticipation of what is to come.
Rijksmuseum widget. Rembrandt’s masterpieces. The Prophetess Anna. www.rijksmuseum.nl/aria/aria_assets/SK-A-3066?lang=en
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