Out of an abundance of caution for all during this COVID-19 Pandemic, I am conducting psychotherapy and life coaching sessions through secured online video.

There’s a wonderful description and discussion, written by Glen McDonald, of Friedrich Retzsch’s painting The Chess Players, that is – sadly – published on a non-public website, and is therefore not accessible.

I’ve included an image of this famous painting.


The Chess Players, also commonly called Checkmate,
by Friederich August Moritz Retzsch (1779-1857)

On the board, the white figures represent the virtues of a righteous life, the black figures symbolize temptations. The black side is definitely winning, and is being played by Mephistopheles, or Satan. The white is played by the young man.  He sits in despair, his pieces surrounded and his queen captured.

Retzsch’s inspiration came from Goethe’s Faust. It’s the story of a young doctor who makes a deal with Satan in exchange for adventure. The young man is just at the point of realizing the true cost of his decision.

Notice the details: the chessboard sits on the top slab of a tomb, there’s a large deadly-looking spider crawling onto the board, the angel behind them is looking sad and resigned at the young man.  All is lost.

In the 1800’s, this painting captured the imagination of Rev. R.R. Harrison of Virginia, and he hosted a dinner party with Checkmate as the star player. It was for the benefit of members of a local Chess club. One of the guests was a famous Chess Player – Paul Morphy. Harrison decided to recreate the positions of all the pieces. Harrison thought the devil had won, but Morphy thought differently.

Morphy took on the remaining white pieces, and by the end of the evening, he’d beaten all the other guests, who had taken Satan’s black pieces.

You may find yourself in a similar position – feeling hopeless and defeated, unable to see any light at the end of the tunnel.  You may have made some big mistakes, and feel you sold your soul to the devil. But all is not lost!

If you take the time to find the master inside you, the game isn’t over.

In the video below, the narrator talks of the Lakota story and their desperate circumstances. Comparing their situation to that of the young man in the painting – desperate, feeling hopeless, maneuvered and forced into the situation they’re in by others – it would require an incredible kind of person to climb out of that morass.

And yet, some have. Truly incredible people.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

America’s Native Prisoners of War

Quote of the Week
When things go wrong, don’t go with them.
― Elvis Presley

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

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