I could not find my son – the younger of the two. I had taken both boys, ages five and seven, to a popular museum to enjoy a French Impressionist collection that was passing through for the summer. On the drive there, I called each boy by name, grabbing their attention and making sure they understood that they were to not only stick together but remain by my side. After paying for our admission, I pulled from my satchel two blank notebooks and two pencil bags full of freshly sharpened colored pencils.
"Use these to let me know which painting you like the best from our time today. Don’t tell me with words, show me with your drawings. We will communicate today as the painters are communicating with us. These artists are speaking – it is up to us to hear."
We stayed together. As an anxious mom in a heavy crowd, I found myself more concerned with keeping an eye on the boys than enjoying the masterpieces before me. And yet, in many ways, looking at the curiosity in my children’s eyes made me think I was looking at the Master’s work.
My oldest son tugged on my hand and pulled me forward, his eyes just poking above the braided rope that kept us from getting too close.
"Look! I see the trees just like what we have at Grandma and Grandpa’s. See all the trees, Mama?"
I did see the trees – all of them hugging on a windy day underneath a blackening, cloudy sky. I saw my son’s soul at that moment. The approaching storm depicted in the painting did not distract him from seeing the beauty of the trees. More than that, he was excited to share the splendor of his excitement with me. I felt remarkably honored and humbled.
"I am going to draw these trees!" he exclaimed, quick to open his notebook. "Help me find green, please." His excitement trumped his patience as he handed me his pencil bag. Finding a rich emerald green color, I gave him a smile and an embrace of encouragement. He drew until he was satisfied.
As my oldest son was about to close his notebook, I was curious as to what his brother thought. Turning to him, I saw what I did not expect. I saw his absence. Somewhere between the blinks, he left my side. My eyes tried to scan between the blur of people, all of whom wrenched together like the windy, dark sky in the painting before me.
"I lost your brother. Come!" I yanked my son’s hand so quickly that his green pencil dropped from his grasp, and he accidentally kicked it in an effort to keep up with me.
I was about to go dizzy with panic when I spotted him. His little body sat crossed-legged on the ground. People moved around him like he was an exhibit, looking with curiosity, tipping their eyes down to see the detail of the boy’s notebook perched open upon his lap.
As I approached, I felt conflicted. I was relieved, frustrated and intrigued. Most of all, I was thankful he was okay. He was so lost in himself that to interrupt him would be like smearing wet paint. So instead, I sat down beside him and motioned for his brother to sit on the other side of me.
Normally I would care about the dirty floors, but this was not a normal moment. This was an extraordinary moment – the artist was speaking, and I needed to hear.
"What are you doing?" I quietly asked my youngest son.
"Painting my best picture." He did not look at me but remained focused on the ornately framed portrait of a pregnant woman in a sheer wrap. She was by today’s standards overweight, big-boned, and not particularly attractive. Yet, she looked angelically peaceful, and her countenance set me at ease amid the blur.
He would pause just long enough to lift the notebook and select a new colored pencil from the bag of pencils he dumped on the floor between his legs.
"Isn’t she pretty?" he whispered. I honestly believe he was not asking me, but more confirming his own belief.
"She is lovely. Truly lovely." And through his eyes, I saw the woman as stunningly beautiful. And somewhere between the blinks, she became as much and more lovely in my own eyes. The three of us sat on the floor in the bustling museum until he closed his notebook.
I will never forget that day, even though they barely have a memory. On the long drive home, I remained silenced by the pureness of the masterpieces asleep in the backseat. Their ability to hang onto what most would overlook left me seeking and seeing God in everything around me. The experience left me wanting to hang onto every Word He speaks. To focus on the Artist of life and love - to be a student of miracles and the Master’s works, knowing they are all around.
God is speaking – it is up to us to hear.
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves you.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.