Finding hope in life's great contrasts

Edvard Munch was a Norwegian painter and printmaker. His works were mostly prominent in the late 19th century and his most well known work was that of the scream painting of 1893.

Munch included metaphors and psychological themes in his work. In this picture below he paints women in three stage of life, in a painting called the Dance of Life.

Dance of Life, 1899-1900 Norway

Dance of Life, 1899-1900 Norway

The three major themes that are represented in the Dance of Life are :  love, anxiety and death.

Munch writes, "life and death, day and night go hand in hand" (Messer 94). Indeed, death is the birth of life, and Munch realizes this. "Munch expresses his awareness about the biological cycle of human existence by the way he dissolves the figures into the landscape, as if their destiny is indivisible from the higher rhythm of nature"

No great art is rushed. I get upset when I try to create a good thing. Making scones at 10:30pm is not my shining moment. I’ve set myself up for failure, because my mind is tired and frustrated and set on the really good chance of it messing up. My posture is set on rushing, accomplishing the end goal oppose to enjoying it.

It is two ideas that must live together as one your entire life. The fight between ending the current pain and for the hope of better life. These two will always be other each others backs. We see it in our aching moments, the painful circumstances, we just want them to pass, to go away, we want to fix the hurt away. But like life, there is no life without death- these two ideas live together in our minds whether we choose to ignore them our not. You can live with the vision that you are going to die, you can live with the vision that you have life. Interesting how life and death co-exist in this reality.  

“Through them all there winds the curving shore line, and beyond it the sea, while under the trees, life, with all its complexities of grief and joy, carries on" (Stang 103).

Co-exisit : to exist together or at the same time, to live in peace with each other

Isn’t it that what moves us forward, keeps us going? Are we not better together? Isn’t our force for good doubled as we come to the realization that two ideas are better than one? The cohesion of pain and joy, love and sadness, happiness and bitterness. Coming to the conclusion that life will boast all elements of emotion, that inevitably death will come- living in this frame of mind that all is accepted all is beautiful.

I wonder how that would change our motivation on the great view of life. If we walked hand in hand with sorrow and joy, peace and toil. Accepting all emotions. Accepting all that comes at us in life as purposeful. Every moment, every instance, not rushed, hurried, not wondering what comes next, but the embracing of the pain, the embracing of the unanswered. Not an easy task!

I want to get on with the peace, the simplicity, the positivity, the fun in life. But, without dark we wouldn’t know what light was, without sadness we wouldn’t know what happiness is. It’s life’s contrasts that make the dance of life the beautiful.  It’s coming to know: There is purpose in every emotion, every season. That pain will grow you, the happiness will give you hope. Bitterness asks you to choose. Will it be your identity, or will it be the making of you? Life is a flow of circumstances beyond our control, as we glide through life we try to avoid the bad things, rush our work weeks, wish away our days, wait for the summer to come. But this beauty, this dance of life is the acknowledgment of both ends of the spectrum for this is the definition of life.

Life is a narrow road, a roller coaster ride- whatever you want to define it. We have no grasp on the comings and goings, but we can come to the acceptance that it all won’t be beautiful. It’s going to be painful, it’s going to be confusing, frustrating, and perhaps not worth living. But, is it worth living? 1000 times yes it’s worth living.

Don’t count out, don’t tap out on life. It’s not over. This darkness you are experiencing isn’t the end of it all. Let it come at you, let them come at you. There is a hand waiting for you among it all. When you can’t pick yourself up anymore, you can’t go on, you can’t move on. The hand of second chances the hand of full acceptance, God, the creator, pulling you to move forward.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

The greatest coexistence you could have in life is with the creator of the universe- praying for you to move forward, helping you when you don’t understand, and allowing you to become something better when you feel the weight is too great. Look to the skies, look to the trees, feel the hope and love around you. This is life, and one life we were given. Grab a hold of life, not just the good stuff- but all the stuff. Let it enlarge you, not become you. Believe for hope, not for hurry, believe for change, not for hiding. Keep holding on to the small light to shine on your life.

For in the hour of our darkest day, We will not tremble, we won’t be afraid, Hope is rising like the light of dawn Our God is for us He has overcome
— We Will Not Be Shaken, Bethel Music
Brittany Hayward