The Wounded Dove, painted by Rebecca Solomon, is a painting that resonates with me deeply. The dove’s wing appears broken and I don’t know if the poor creature is accepting of the help being offered or if it struggles against those cradling hands. Hurt and frightened, the only things that can possibly help are time, patience, and nurturing. But only if the bird is calm and accepting. I can look at this work and say to myself, there are times when I am this dove.
I don’t want to ignore the woman because I am too focused on the dove, though. Her face is peaceful and she seems to cradle the bird calmly. She wants to save and protect it. This wild creature, a symbol of peace, has been rescued and brought into her home where she can tend to the dove’s wing with love and hope. This is a woman who exists in peaceful surroundings and wants only to nurture. I can look at this work and say to myself, I intend to be this kind of caregiver.
Perhaps the dove and the woman are two sides of the same coin. There are times when we need to nurture and times when we need to tear down our own walls and allow others to nurture us. Neither are always easy to do. Sometimes we have to stop struggling like a frightened bird and accept help with grace. We also need to learn to offer help without ego. I don’t know Solomon’s intention when she painted The Wounded Dove in 1866, but for me it represents not only the cycle of giving and receiving, but giving without demands. Peace and love, friends, it’s all about peace and love. In Solomon’s work I see an allusion to the kind of unselfish love that is fed by giving and receiving. That kind of love is enough.