On this Good Friday, 2013, when North Korea threatens the world with bluster beyond its means, when Syria lurches into a second year of war, and countless other human failures seem to overtake us, I’m drawn to Pablo Picasso and one of his paintings which always gives me hope. Picasso’s “Studio (Pigeons)” painted in 1957, is a choir of colors, shapes, and perspectives. Essentially, this painting invites the viewer to look out a window onto rich blue water , bright white sky, and a golden bit of land. The water is choppy but not ominous, the sky hovers clear and open, the land is not too distant and it appears smooth and quiet. On the window ledge rest two chattering pigeons. Around the window sit other birds, more solitary, more at rest. Some sit under a palm tree, some rest in the warmth of nests.
Picasso often created paintings offering this vantage point– looking out a window. Looking out a window, we realize we are not forever bound to the world inside the room, whatever the room might be. The window kindly offers us an alternative world, a place to go, an escape.
I remember some years ago, when I lived in Northeast D.C., my writing desk looked out a window from which I saw an alley, the back of a storefront Pentecostal church, the slender rise of Providence Hospital, and at night, a river of headlights making their way along Michigan Avenue. Though most would not describe this window-view as beautiful, it still always felt hopeful to me. No matter the problem within, here I could see a world apart from my own concerns, other people navigating their own joys and sadnesses.
I yearn for a world of windows. I have them where I live now. I have them where I work. All I have to do is engage the discipline to look. Thank you, Pablo Picasso, for these windows, this hope.