Charles R. Knight was always one of my favorite artists. He is best known for the paintings he executed for our country’s great museums–paintings that make prehistoric ages come alive.
This is one of his renditions of Uintatherium, a walking fortress that exists no more. Well, naturally I’m going to groove on the prehistoric animals. But lately it’s been another aspect of Knight’s paintings that has captured my imagination.
Look closely. Take your time. Ignore the creature and study the landscape. I don’t know about you, but I would just about swear that Knight’s prehistoric landscapes were real places that he’d visited.
I know about that. I dream of places that are only real when I dream them. In fact, that’s how Bell Mountain started.
I know nothing of Charles R. Knight’s religious beliefs. But I believe that if the Holy Spirit wants to use you, He will, regardless of what you believe. If we approach Knight’s possibly real, possibly imaginary places in the right frame of mind, the Spirit might touch us, too.
God created the world and all living things, and pronounced them good. If He has Uintatherium safely tucked away in some unguessed-at corner of His universe, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were in a place just like the one Knight painted.
And who would be more surprised to discover that than Charles Knight himself?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I dream of places that don’t exist. One of them I visited the other night. In the dreams–I’ve been there several times–there is no golf course and country club at the end of Main Steet. Instead, the street dissolves into woodland, with a path leading in. Your car might just about fit, but you’re better off walking or biking. That’s what I do.
By and by the woods thins out and off to one side is an old railroad cut, rarely used by trains. At the bottom, along both sides of the rails, run little streams full of salamanders, crayfish, and pollywogs. Farther along, the land spreads out into meadows and marshes. There’s a train station there, sometimes with a passenger or two waiting for the next train. Here we see ancient, abandoned railroad carts and other equipment peacefully weathering in the sun. We hear assorted shore and marsh birds calling. If you’re into catching turtles, this is a pretty good place for it.
And you’d be surprised who you might out here. The last time I came here, I wound up having a nice long chat with Father Brown (as played by Mark Williams), which regrettably had to come to an end when Father Brown’s bishop came striding up the railroad track to demand that Father Brown get back to church.
I have another dreamscape which I visit sometimes. It’s a fictional arm of Raritan Bay that reaches miles inland, all the way to the adjacent town to mine. It’s nice for boating and fishing: very peaceful. All my dreamscapes are peaceful. No leaf blowers allowed.
I know these places aren’t real, and yet I could draw you detailed maps of them because I’ve been there so often.
Maybe, somewhere, they are real, after all.