finding Shalom

John Glover, "Ullswater, Early Morning", 19th Century, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

John Glover, “Ullswater, Early Morning”, c. 1824, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

For Sunday, June 9, 2013
3rd Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 5)

John Glover was a famous English landscape painter.  This is a painting of Ullswater Lake in the English Lake District and was likely on or near land that he owned.    Glover subsequently moved to Australia on his 64th birthday in 1831 and purchased a large tract of land in what is now Tasmania.  He subsequently became known as the father of Australian landscape painting.  It seems fitting that “Ullswater, Early Morning” should hang in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  It’s as if God himself is bringing together the best of England and Australia and blessing both of them.

When I look at this landscape it speaks to me with one quiet word, “shalom”, a Hebrew word that might be rendered in English as “flourishing”.  In this painting all is well with a stunningly beautiful yet tranquil world.

Why is is that we so seldom experience shalom?  We get so busy that we forget that for which we are striving.  What is ‘that’ if not shalom?  What if we could make some time and space so that shalom could be found not merely at the end of the journey but in every day and every moment of it.  This is what the gospel offers to us if we will only create the time and space for it to take root in our souls, families, and circles of influence.

There are also beautiful pictures of shalom in this week’s readings.  Elijah says to the widow of Zaraphath, “Your jug of oil will not fail.”    The God of Psalm 146 creates the heavens, the earth, and the sea, and then promises to keep faith with us forever.  The God of Psalm 30 turns the mourning of depression into dancing.  The Galatian Christians marvel that the man who was their Grand Inquisitor is now champion of their cause.

God gives each of us places to find shalom.  For Glover it was no doubt in the countrysides of England and Australia and in his paintings of them.  For me it is in my man cave where I’ll light a candle, burn some frankincense, and  experience the light and sweet aroma of my Heavenly Father.

Where is a place of shalom that God has given you?  It would be wonderful if some of you could share the places God has given to you.


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