Mermaid by Waterhouse
I was searching for an image of a knight, a picture I had in my head of La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Poem: John Keats, Painting: Waterhouse) and I stumbled upon this. It was then I remembered that, 10 years ago, I went though a phase of collecting postcards of fine art, particularly Romantic and late 19th Century pieces based on scenes from Classical Literature and from the canon of English Poetry. I wondered if this mermaid was behind my persona in some way - she was one of the postcards I had collected - wistfully looking out to sea, alone, pensive...
But thinking about my collection reminded me of The Wanderer Above the Mists. This was a picture that had such an impact on me as a student. It was at the epicentre of my collection, posted in the middle of my room and surrounded by the other paintings. It is a powerful portrait of a man who looks like he has been transported to an unknown place, to a situation for which he was not prepared (his clothing is hardly that of an intrepid explorer!)... a man facing a task unfinished, a path unseen, yet he is not shirking from his challenge. He will go into the great unknown, he will venture into the mist though he cannot see the dangers, because he trusts in the One who does know the way, who will guide him through the paths of his life.
Wanderer Above The Mists
For me, this is how I have always seen life. I am not really the pensive mermaid sitting around, combing her hair, waiting for a mer-man. I am the traveller, the wayfarer, the journeyman and the lone crusader. I am a lot stronger than people think, even if I have to pour out my siren songs from time to time.
Yet I have never had a 10-year plan, or a 5-year or even a 1-year plan. I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future and I am confident that I, too, can face the future with its trials and with its joys, because I know where my ultimate destination is, I have a shepherd to guide me and I have been given the key.
"I know who holds the future
And He'll guide me by the hand;
With God things don’t just happen
Everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow with its
problems large and small
I’ll trust the God of miracles,
Give to him my all."