“Fishing Boats, Key West” by Winslow Homer

Into the Light

A simple outing at the art museum with their children leaves their hearts burning.

“American watercolors, 1880-1990, Into the Light”, the title of an exhibit at the Harvard Art Museum, caught my eye earlier this summer because I knew my friend Laura loved watercolors. I asked her and a few other friends if they wanted to go together to see the exhibit (also because I don’t know much about art let alone watercolors and I was curious to find out more), and on a Tuesday morning we met at Harvard square for our art outing.

Four other moms accompanied me and between all of us we had 22 children under the age of 12 and 5 teenagers – it was quite the group! I was excited because I knew that with these moms my children would be exposed to beauty and learn something new about watercolors. When we arrived at the museum, we were asked to split into groups, so each mom gathered a few kids and we formed a group of teenagers and headed off to explore the museum. I loved walking around with Christianne who pointed out to the little ones in my group the beautiful structures and statues in the museum. We also found a room with familiar paintings of Van Gogh, Renoir, and Monet.

When we finally made it up to the Watercolor exhibit I had to run and move my car because it was parked at a 2-hour meter. My friend Eugenia (who accompanied me that day with her 8 children) didn’t hesitate and took my newborn baby so that I could run out and move the car by myself. When I returned I found the children drawing quietly because Laura had suggested they pick their favorite watercolor painting and try to draw it in their sketch pad. It moved me to see my little girls (ages 2 and 4.5) so concentrated in depicting what they liked. Two women stopped and asked me if we were a group of homeschooled moms or if it was a school trip. I told her we were a group of friends with their children and as I was saying that I was so grateful. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, what is it that connects me with Laura, Eugenia, Miriam, and Christianne and that gives me the desire to share what is beautiful – like American watercolor art – to our children?” In that moment my heart was burning and I thought of the two apostles of Emmaus whose heart burned when they recognized Jesus.

A few weeks later, another friend, Alessandra, told me she was going to the Harvard Art Museum with Stefania and that they would each “learn and study” a painting and then explain it to each other. Again, when she told me this my heart was burning because I recognized in them that same desire and yearning for beauty that I have for myself and for my children. Our art outing was not at all perfect and I didn’t prepare much for it but what I hold on to is the desire to communicate what is beautiful to my children. And what is out of this world is that I am with other adults who desire the same thing – life shared with friends is truly beautiful!

Monica, Stoneham, MA