An early memory still informs me. I’m told that these early impressions shape us in profound ways, and it may be true. In fact this could be my very earliest memory, for I distinctly remember standing in my crib. I was nimble enough to stand, and tall enough to be able to feel the screen top preventing me from being able to climb out. The latch on that 50’s model contraption had me trapped. I was therefore looking out the window which was open and just beyond me to the right. It was a partly cloudy day, the curtains gently swaying. Can a toddler marvel at the sun? If so, I was doing precisely that, watching the brightness emerge, then remove as the clouds shifted. That memory sticks sure for some interesting reason; time was involved, and wonder. I could have had no understanding about orbs and atmosphere. I just remember being so very happy every time the sun was visible again. I could feel it, I could see it, and then it would hide again. This whole scenario was beyond my control, and as a young one so much else was too. I was an observer. But the pleasure of this revealing warmth was as personal as such things can be, grasped by a little girl who was alone in her wonderings. If my Mother had come in and found the right questions to ask, if I had even had the language to express, I am not sure I would have been able then or even later to explain how this moved me so deeply.
I could try to understand this partly now. For one thing, whenever I am in a new space, the most important impressions for me are out the window, not interiors. This has simply always been true. What is “out there” is far more significant for me than what is trapped or caught here. I just have known this for a very long time. It has to do with place and position and outlook I think, and maybe even destination.
When I got older and found my interest in landscape, I first thought my own attempts were only “hobby art” until I studied the thinking behind Song Dynasty landscapes. The Chinese, long before the Europeans, understood the mystic depth of “the beyond” vs. the small observer. This makes total sense to me, likely because of my own impression in that crib. The Hebrew poet expressed this, way earlier, in Psalm 19.
And the personal experience of warmth, the assurance of it’s presence even behind the darkening cloud was the beginning of hope for me, I feel. I have a melancholic temperament with depressive tendencies, but I have never been locked in a deep depression. I really thank God for that, for I know my tendencies and I have dear friends who suffer terribly. I wonder if this is why: I knew early on that the bright warming happiness was there, really there; and that it would soon reveal again. You cannot convince me otherwise.
Long before I knew the Creator’s name, or came to understand His character, I was experiencing Him.