Tuesday, October 25, 2011
"...but the blessing of earth is toil."
"Born within a lowly stable, where the cattle 'round Me stood,
Trained a carpenter in Nazareth, I have toiled, and found it good.
"They who tread the path of labor follow where My feet have trod;
They who work without complaining do the holy will of God.
"Where the many toil together, there am I among My own;
Where the tired workman sleepeth, there am I with him alone."
More from Henry Van Dyke's "The Friendly Year". These verses are a small excerpt from "The Toiling of Felix, and Other Poems", first published in 1900, a lyrical meditation on the spiritual value of work and labor in a happy life.
...and another Henry Ossawa Tanner painting: the oft-marketed "Young Sabot Maker", in which Tanner, in Paris, depicted a young apprentice learning to make wooden shoes, using the same kinds of woodworking tools that carpenters have used for thousands of years. Compare with the one above, which Georges DelaTour painted in the mid 17th century, of St Joseph in his cabinet shop, with the young Jesus at hand. As Tanner moved deeper and deeper into his calling to paint the biblical reality, it is easy to imagine his meditation on Jesus' childhood in a carpenter's home.
Tanner said of his work "My effort has been to not only put the Biblical incident in the original setting ... but at the same time give the human touch "which makes the whole world kin" and which ever remains the same. "
In the poet's words:
"This is the gospel of labour, ring it, ye bells of the kirk!
The Lord of Love came down from above, to live with the men who work.
This is the rose that He planted, here in the thorn-curst soil:
Heaven is blest with perfect rest, but the blessing of Earth is toil."