Here we are in the midst of a cold, snowy spell which is an appropriate time for writing about this painting called Glistening in Grey.
On the day I took the reference photos for this painting, I did not set out to do any such thing. Ray and I had planned on an early morning treasure hunt, but wouldn't you know, our plans were changed by snow!
You see, this place in the Gauley River is just below Summersville Dam which is significant if you know much about whitewater rafting in West Virginia.
Photos of Summersville Dam: The photo on the left is one I took on a summer day from the roadside overlook. The earthen dam creates beautiful Summersville Lake on the other side and is managed by the Corps of Engineers to control flooding. The photo in the center is me several years ago the first time I visited this amazing feature. The photo on the right (by Adventures on the Gorge, published in WV Explorer Mag 8-22-19) shows what the river below the dam at the launch site looks like during Gauley Season - that famous time in the fall when they begin to lower the lake for the winter, which creates amazing rafting experiences.
Living in Summersville, we learned of a day in February (almost exactly 10 years ago) when the dam was going to be totally shut off for routine maintenance and that it was possible to walk along the rocks near the launch area and retrieve things that had dumped out of peoples' rafts. We thought it would be fun to go out early in the morning and see what we could find.
To give a little context, the following pictures show the area below the dam in the summer of 2012 when our kids visited us. We were able to walk out onto the rocks that are totally immersed as you saw in the photo during Gauley Season. The third and fourth photo are of the launch area - one in the summer and one on the winter day we headed out to "find treasures." Click the arrow at the edge to flip through them.
When we woke up early the next morning to a significant snowfall, we thought about canceling our plans - for a minute - and then decided to go out and just see if we could find anything. Well, that was a bit funny because everything was totally covered with snow when we got down to the bottom of the dam. But, oh, what a lovely walk through the snow we had (That's another painting called Footprints in the Snow.)
The treasure we found was even more glorious than someone's lost sunglasses or cooler. We walked mittened-hand-in-hand, best friends, down the snow-covered road in awe of the stillness and beauty. Snow was falling with those large, soft flakes in that totally quiet way it has. There was no one else around and we explored all around the snowy rocks in the awesome stillness. Then, the sun broke through the gray clouds and everything glistened while the snow kept softly falling. A "wow" moment that is hard to explain, but I did my best to convey what we felt in the painting, Glistening in Grey, pictured at the beginning of this post.
This seems appropriate for the beginning of a year. Most likely things did not all go as we had planned in the previous year. They probably didn't even begin as we had planned in this new year. Isn't that how life is? Nothing really goes according to our plans. But the stuff we've done or had to go through can be covered with a blanket of pure white. Everything looks clean and soft. There will still be gray days and hard things, but the sun breaks through, and the dark waters glisten.
I wish you peace always and on those difficult days may you find a glistening ray through the grey.
Here are a couple more photos I took of the river that morning including the one that I used as reference for this painting.
I am reminded of these verses in Isaiah that talk about the comfort, peace, and joy that Jesus gives when we trust Him. "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; . . . to comfort all who mourn; to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit. . . ."
I love this gentle song that speaks of this joy. I encourage you to listen as you look upon fresh snow or ponder this piece of art.
(White as Snow, Melissa Helser, Cageless Birds)