“The Wound of Love” by Taryn Watkins

Taryn’s Reflection on the painting:

This painting, “The Wound of Love” is the fruit of prayer. Prayer of union with God, inseparability of suffering and beauty, it is the nuptial bed of the cross, the beauty of the  Transfiguration; immense pain and joy that are not separate things…the layers in this painting can go back and forth. At times the bird is an image of the soul and God’s work in it. The soul is the one pierced in the heart, wounded by love. The wound grows but at the same time it is carried as a hidden space, a space of dark and light. A place of fire and consummation and silent whispers. There is pain in that wound, immense pain both for the one pierced and the one inflicting the wound, yet it is the most precious thing it possesses. Fullness, gold and heavy, but dark and empty too. It is it’s entire orientation, every gaze, the source of its very life and breath. It reminds me a lot of St. John of the Cross’ poetry, “There love wounded me and took away my heart. I begged love to kill me since it had so wounded me; I threw myself in its fire knowing it burned, excusing now the young bird that would die in the fire. I was dying in myself, breathing in you alone. I died within myself for you and for you I revived, because the memory of you gave life and took it away.” The wound is not just the center (everything points toward it) but it is also a space opening to a different world, the really real world more real than what can be seen.

The bird is the bride, covered in beauty and her train flowing behind. The feminine grace and mystery hidden, veiled behind the feathers. The bird is the Church, complex and diverse but unified in one harmony of parts, or the soul in its own conflicted complexity. There is a majesty and mystery and ferocity to the bird, yet that majesty and mystery only comes from the One Mystery who surpasses it in every radiant beauty…everything it has is received. Despite this, it is filled with sorrow and tenderness and weakness, gifts from its spouse more mysterious.

The fox is the Lord, the initiator, the aggressor, who has captured the soul but this capture is all the soul desires…it leans into it, straining forward toward the wound, toward the captor, the fox. Falling, flying, pulling, tearing. “You have seduced me, O Lord, and I have let myself be seduced. ” the Lord has taken his prey, but so has the soul. “When I ascended higher, my vision was dazzled, and the most difficult conquest came about in darkness; but since I was seeking love the leap I made was blind and dark, and I rose so high, so high, that I took the prey ”  The slight interweaving of feathers and fur, the mingling of tears, the small points of tenderness and intimacy… This point of union, this moment of capture, is one of growing likeness between two opposites. Where they meet for example where the fox touches the bird or where it holds it with its teeth, the color flows one into the other and they are made the same. There is a mirroring of shapes, the tail and the feathers. The blood poured out, taking a part of each into the other. even this spear, the weapon that tears the space into them, unites their wounds. Their gaze toward each other is the invisible shining knowing they have of their beloved.

This likeness, this unity is also true if the bird is the Lord. Beauty who is The Pierced One and looking on the lowly fox can only behold and be washed in the blood and water, the tears and the wine. The blood or the feathers flowing from his side feed the fox, the bird gives his own body for the life of the fox. And we like the fox in the little prince can weep for sorrow and joy at having been tamed and to suffer for such a great love and the soul can rejoice at having tamed God, the wild and consuming mystery.  It is both at the same time, the image flips back and forth because the union has created a likeness of each in the other, “I in them and you in me that they may be perfectly one.”

“How do you endure / O life, not living where you live, / And being brought near death / By the arrows you receive / From that which you conceive of your beloved / Why, since you wounded / this heart, don’t you heal it? / And why, since you stole it from me/ Do you leave it so, / And fail to carry off what you have stolen?” (Spiritual Canticle 8-9, St. John of the Cross)

“Wound of Love” detail
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