Light Descended: A Discussion of Sacred Things

Sacred is defined as connected with God (or the gods) and therefore deserving veneration. I find the process of something becoming sacred very interesting both universally and personally. What things are sacred to many and what are simply sacred to me?

An example of this is my wedding ring. Even now as I stop typing to give it a twist with the fingers and thumb of my right hand I am reminded of its purpose there and of the veneration it deserves not intrinsically, although it is handcrafted and has some inherent value, but because it symbolizes who I want to be in connection with who I want to be with. It is now sacred to me.

We talk often here at Heirloom about things we cherish. Family, good food, traditions, heritage, the earth, well-crafted objects and giving good gifts. Sometimes we venture to also gently remind ourselves and you of the sacred. Of Faith. We truly are not intent on describing or naming your faith or ours. Yes, each of us here, has a framework for that faith but we know that framework differs widely and we love that. I find great solace in my personal connection with Deity and can’t be truly authentic or vulnerable to you as a reader without occasionally sharing more specifically. The subject of this entry fits squarely in that category.

Several years ago one of the religious buildings in my home town, was burned. Originally built in the late 1800’s it was one of the oldest and noblest structures around. My great-great-grandfather helped put on the roof. I had spent several Sundays as a child mesmerized by the spiral staircase and the numbed by the uncomfortable pews. As Notre Dame was to Paris, the Tabernacle was to Provo. It felt like something sacred had been lost. Gratefully the building was fully restored and rededicated to become a different kind of place for worship and now even weddings. Had I been married there it would add the icing on the cake of this story but alas the fire happened several years after my wedding day.

For years we watched the process of restoration and hand in hand with my sweetheart we toured the restored structure. As we walked through one space, we paused in front of a beautiful landscape painting. It presented to me a rumbling spring morning just on the verge of rain. As the viewer I was placed on a rolling hill overlooking a distant grove of trees. Instead of rain bursting from the cloud, a pillar of heavenly light was striking the grove and illuminating it from within. I marveled at the beauty of the painting and felt the depth of its personal meaning before I learned the story behind the work.

Later I learned that the painting was done by Michael Albrechtsen, who since has become a dear friend. I immediately felt the sincerity of this masterpiece but that increased tenfold when I first spoke with Michael. He is gentle, kind and extremely easy to talk to. With his hands and a few tools, he can truly make a canvas sing. The painting I first saw was depicting an important moment in the narrative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A moment when heaven touched earth on a spring morning 200 years ago. Though this may not feel significant to you it touched me deeply.

For years I have been fascinated by art, literature, objects, and music referencing the idea of heaven interacting with earth. I am specifically drawn to Light as the mode of connection. Reading Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Marc Twain I was enamored with the simple even humble interactions between Joan and heaven in a small grove of trees near her childhood home. Later, seeing the monumental painting of Joan by Jules Bastien-Lepage in the Metropolitan Museum of art nearly knocked me off my feet. I love these depictions as reference points or reminders of my own sacred moments of feeling heaven nearby.

The painting I saw that day in the restored tabernacle was called First Vision from Afar. Since then, Michael has painted different original versions of this illuminated concept for others who felt the power and warmth of this light. We are so pleased that he has decided to make a version of this painting even more available and accessible and feel deeply honored that he has asked us to share its story.

Light Descended: First Vision from Afar is a new original painting depicting the same concept in a new way. Prints are also now available for pre-order online and will be in store shortly! If you are in town, please come in to see the original on display as well. Currently the original is not for sale. Michael’s family has asked him to keep it and he is trying to make up his mind. I honestly can’t blame him.

We have worked hard to take prints to a new level of authenticity here at Heirloom Art Co. Collaborating with master framer Rett Ashby we have created an exclusive simple gilded frame profile that fits in any style of house. The type of frame you would see on an original. Richly printed giclee on watercolor paper with a matte finish allows you to choose to protect it with glass or brave the print uncovered to give the feeling of an original unvarnished painting.

No matter your beliefs, we hope this painting resonates with some part of your soul. Thank you for taking the time to read this. We hope you feel our sincere desire for you and those you love to feel more distinctly your immense worth. Perhaps you have been reminded that heaven, however it looks for you, is near and ready to illuminate your quiet grove of trees along with mine, and Joan and a young boy in upstate New York.

April 01, 2021 — Brad Roberts



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