A reflection shared by Rev. Nicola Vidamour at the first MWiB Launch Roadshow, Westminster Central Hall, London, Sunday 18th September 2011.
The picture on the screen hangs over the fire-place in my front-room. Sometimes, as I look at it, I think it might be Hannah on one of her annual pilgrimages to visit her son, Samuel in the temple. I have also thought that it might be Mary when she was reunited with Jesus after losing him in Jerusalem. The painting was a gift from my mother and so it also reminds me of her – not least because, like the woman in the picture, she often puts her index finger up the back of my neck when she embraces me, and has told me that she used to hold my head in that way when she was feeding me.
Each of you will have your own memories and associations as you look at this image. For me, the most striking aspect of the painting is that it captures a particular moment in which the woman and the child are completely immersed. We could perhaps even call this painting “For such a time as this” – because for this woman and this child the only time that matters is this time right now – this particular moment. For such a time as this….
I don’t know about you – but I am not very good at living in the present. I spend most of my time either re-living the past or dreaming about the future – and as a result I often fail to enjoy what is happening to me in the here and now. The woman and child in the picture, however, are relishing this time now. They are not thinking about what happened yesterday or what they will be doing tomorrow. They are simply living the present moment to the full. For such a time as this…
Last month, I made my first ever visit to Africa – and I learnt something about African time! One morning, when we arrived at a church and I knew that we were expected at a second one later that day, I asked my host what time we would need to leave in order to get to our next appointment. “We will leave when we are ready” he said. “because we need to give these people here our full attention now and we will not be able to do that if we are thinking about where we are going next.”
That was very challenging for me but it is an attitude which I see reflected in this picture. The woman and child are fully present to one another. They are giving one another their full attention. You get the sense that if their mobile phones were to ring they would ignore them!
We women are good at multi-tasking – but is that always a good thing? At least three times this week I have sent an email or a text message at the same time as talking to someone on the landline – and I deeply regret that – because it has prevented me from being fully present to each of the people with whom I was communicating. What can this painting teach us about the need to be fully present to one another and to God?
For such a time as this…. This moment will never come again. We need to embrace the present fully and be fully present in the embrace. We need to embrace the present fully and be fully present in the embrace. And as we seek to do that as Methodist Women in Britain, may our relationship with God and with one another be as loving and attentive as the woman and child in this picture.
Image from pamela-mccabe.artistswebsites.com