Simcha prayed while setting up his brushes. He wanted to paint something special, but felt no urgent direction, no creative muse. He pictured scenes of sunrises and waterfalls, nature in all her glory, though none of it seemed glorious enough. He had something he wanted to say, but wasn’t even sure of the words to ask for. So he bowed his head in deference and lifted his heart in praise.
Simcha’s paints were his song. His words were brush strokes, a message unfolding at once in the shades between one shape and another. If you looked quickly you’d see it and if you studied it for hours you’d see the same thing. His light shone slowly, a quiet stretch of peace like a ray of sunshine in the early morning.
He painted with steady precision, sculpting the light as it streamed in from the windows. His colors meshed and blended, swirling brush strokes bringing everything together. His stained, calloused hands had painted a thousand scenes like this, each heartfelt and joyful, each named and purposeful. Each dab of color, down to the tiniest detail, held a profound importance to the elderly painter. He carved his masterpieces out of the simple life around him, the height of the mountains, the rushing of the river, and the reverence in his heart. His life was full of wonder and Simcha was grateful.
He paused to take his trusty kettle from the fireplace and pour steaming water through coffee grounds. The familiar tin cup was filled with the sweet blend and steam rose to fill the room. He looked forward to the first sip, but would let it cool a bit first.
When Simcha turned back to the canvas he saw something unexpected. A new color, different than all the others, had somehow come in with the light. It was bold, the most intense and satisfying hue he’d ever seen. It seemed to reach out to him and know him. The alluring shade sang from the canvas, a tune so familiar to Simcha that he was able to sing along.
Though he was busily brushing the new shade this way and that, the mysterious color steadfastly retained its original hue, never diluting or changing when mixed with the other colors. It seemed to combine the other shades, even uniting some of them into new tones and brightening or softening others as needed. It held them in place, with each color fitting like a puzzle piece in the landscape.
He was awestruck. In all his years, he’d never seen a color like this. It was bold and brilliant, soft and subtle, and alive like the youngest child or long-lived sage. It gripped him with recognition and held him with ease.
The texture led him, turning his brush in unintended directions, scooping up other colors and moving them entirely, bringing them to rest here and there. The new color was painting itself!
Simcha was amused, but tried to return it to his original vision. It would not be moved. Instead, it led his brush strokes as if they were dancing. He found himself painting swirls and upsweeps at the direction of the odd substance. A profound joy filled him as he surveyed the work. A scene was appearing before him, hopeful and vibrant, and entirely different than what he had planned.
When Simcha finally stepped back from the work he saw it was a simple path in a delicate forest. Trees were planted here and there, birds nesting in their branches, the sky blue and clear behind them. The path was made of that strange color and it seemed to stretch on to a promised destination. Simcha was moved to tears, though he could not explain why.
He relaxed, gazed at the painting for a moment, and reached for his coffee. He took the first sip, an anticipated fulfillment, though it paled in comparison to what he saw on the canvas.