Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Painting - A story

Once upon a time there was a Master Painter.  His artwork was beautiful, profound, every word an original, valuable and a masterpiece. His sense of color and detail was perfect, every work of art was special.

One day a family moved into a new home, one where the Master Painter had once lived and created his masterpieces.  Cleaning out the attic, the former art room, the new owner discovered a painting hidden back in a corner underneath a tarp.

The man lifted the painting out of the corner and set it out in the open against a wall.

"What do you have there?" asked his wife.

"It appears to be a painting of some sort," the man answered.

Now the man and his wife did not know that the home had been owned by the Master Painter so they were not aware of the great value that the painting held.  They noted it's beauty, and appreciated the colors and textures, but they just did not understand its value because they simply did not know much about paintings and masterpieces.

Busy in settling about their new home the new owners went back down into the main part of the house and simply forgot about the painting in the attic and just left it there in the attic, uncovered and collecting dust.

Over the next months they did much remodeling of their new home and dust and filth filled the air in their quaint little home. By the time they returned to the attic, the painting was covered in thick grim, the picture now obscured, the colors muted, the lighting had faded, and the masterpiece seemed like nothing special at all.

"What shall we do with this?" the husband asked his wife.

"I can't imagine anyone would want it. If you tried to clean it you would only likely damage it," she answered.  "We should probably just toss it away."

So the next time the trash man was to come the husband carried the masterpiece out to the curb and left it there for pick up.  When the trash man came along he saw it leaning there against the cans and thought he saw something in it that pleased him.  It was not particularly striking, it was covered in grime and filth after all, but he thought it at least deserved better than the dump where all the trash along the street was headed for.  So he picked up the painting and say it back in the back of his cab, and quickly forgot it was there.

It was for many months that the painting sat behind his seat in the cab of his trash truck.  It collected more filth and began to soak the scents of the trash he carried.

One day on his lunch break the trash man stopped by his home to have lunch with his wife and children.  As he was leaving to go back to work his wife and children walked him out to his truck.  His daughter climbed up into the cab to kiss him goodbye and as she grabbed hold of the headrest of his seat her hand brushed across the painting behind his seat.  With her little hands she tried to pull it up, tearing at the corners.

"What's this Daddy?" she asked.

"Oh my," her father laughed. "I completely forgot about that." And he pulled the picture up out from behind the seat.

"It's so dirty, Daddy," she cried. "And it doesn't smell good at all," she told him, wrinkling her little nose.

Her father nodded sadly, the time in the trash truck had done it's damage.  "Do you want it?" he asked.

"No, no," cried his wife from outside the cab. "You take it where it belongs and finally deliver it to that dump!" she told him.

"Don't you see a little beauty in it?" he asked his wife. "Come on, Mama, surely you can fix it up!" he told her handing it down out of his cab.

So Mama took the painting and carried it up into the garage and set it aside to be dealt with later.

Later came quite a long time after that day.  By the time mama had come back to consider the painting there was a little oil spill on it, and some water damage from when the washing machine had overflowed.  She took a damp rag and wiped at it, but it only seemed to make matters worse.

Then mama remembered the charity people were coming that day to pick up donations.  Rather than fuss with the painting Mama took it out by the curb and set it down between the backs of toys and clothes she was giving away. "Let them deal with it," she thought. "Clean it or toss it, someone else can decide."

So the painting sat all day in the hot sun until the man from the charity came with his truck and took it away.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," was this charity's motto, so nothing was ever thrown away.  Everything went to one of their consignment shops, because even if something only earned a dollar, it could benefit those in need.  So when the painting arrived at the shop one of the workers there did the best he could to make it look better, a little damp cloth and a little dry wiping, he did what he could to make the painting presentable and put a sticker price of $3.00 on it and stuck it on the floor against a wall near the back of the store where it sat for a very long time collecting again more dust and grime.

One day the Master Painter was on holiday in his old hometown. Now the Master Painter's wife had a fondness for treasure hunting.  She too believed that one man's trash was another man's treasure and she liked to frequent little shops that sold secondhand things. And because the Master Painter loved to spend time with his wife doing things that made her happy, he was always willing to follow along on her adventures.

On this particular day Mr. and Mrs. Master Painter came upon the shop where the painting had landed after Mama had decided the work was too hard after her husband the trash man had left the painting in his truck to long after he found the painting outside by the trash cans where the new homeowners had placed it after finding it in the attic that had once been the art room of the Master Painter himself.

Now the wife looked through every little knickknack and thing and every little shelf in the store, so the Master Painter wandered about while he waited for his love. While he walked toward the back his foot caught on the painting and it fell flat on its face before him.  The Master Painter bent low and picked up the painting and lifted it before his own eyes.

He ran his hand down across the face of the painting tenderly. And his heart ached to see what had somehow become of his masterpiece. Despite the dust and grime, and the tattered edges, he immediately recognized it for what it was, his own.  He fingered the $3.00 price tag and just shook his head.  Here he held a treasure, and it had been completely misunderstood.

Suddenly the Master Painter felt a hand upon his shoulder. "It's yours," his wife said from behind him.

"Yes, it is," he told her.  "How did you know?"

She pointed in the corner and said, "I can see your signature there.  What a shame," she told him. "All the hands this must have passed through, and not one of them knew they beheld a treasure."

That day the Master Painter and his wife paid the $3.00 to buy back the painting, and the Master Painter took it back to his art room.  It took time, patience and effort, but the Master Painter slowly and faithfully restored the masterpiece. He cleaned away the grime, wiped away the soot.  He mended the tattered edges. With his turpentine he wiped away what was damaged, and with his paint brush he brought back color and light.  With one last stroke the Master Painter stepped back to admire the work of restoration he had done.

"It's beautiful. Perfect," his wife said, walking up behind him.

"Not yet," said the Master Painter. "One more thing is required." And then he placed his signature on the painting, darker and clearer than before, so that no one would ever again mistake this treasure for trash.

by Diana DePriest
©August 29, 2013

I think this is a perfect parable for what happens to too many today.  Created as masterpieces, people become redefined by the "elements" of life - neglect, filth, insignificance, assault or sorts from the world.  And before we know it, our value is redefined by a "$3.00 price tag" placed on us by someone who just doesn't understand where we came from, for what or by Whom we were created.

And the "damage" of life can only be undone by returning to the One who created us.  He alone can rebuild, re-beautify and restore.  Until we and others see ourselves the way He sees us, our value is missed, mistaken and seemingly lost. But when we sit and allow the Creator to do what He wills to bring redemption and restoration in our lives, His signature on us becomes so much clearer, so much easier to see.

I feel sorry for the Miley Cyrus' of the Lord who are desperately trying to find their value in the "pricing" of those who have no idea what they are truly worth.  We are masterpieces because of Who created us, that alone brings immeasurable value to our lives.

No comments: