I love the Dutch masters. Here is Pieter de Hooch’s “The Courtyard of a House in Delft.” The scene is consistent with the way de Hooch always portrays feminine domestic space – a courtyard where all sorts of domestic tasks are performed. But his work also tends to include open doorways revealing the world beyond.
What touches me in this scene is the elements of engagement and disengagement so prominent in the two women and the child. The woman standing in the passage way, and the broom in the courtyard, which seems to have been cast aside, really catches my eye. Is she waiting for someone? Is she looking out on and longing for a world beyond the immediate and mundane? Is she the one who tossed the broom aside in protest against her confined surroundings? I wish I knew.
It got me thinking; do we not at times look out on the world like this as if we were simply spectators; do we live in passageways of inertness and meaninglessness when we find it difficult to integrate the mundane in to the longings of our souls? Are these passageways not the very places where we begin to do that work of integration? I wonder?