Let your life be God’s canvas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2011

“Hey, are you going to the painting party?” read the text from my friend, Beth Hitt. I was anxious to attend but reluctant to go alone, so I quickly made plans to join her.  

In the meantime, I convinced myself that surely we would be given a stencil of the fleur de lis to trace. I should have spent the time convincing Bonnie McKenney, the art teacher, for when I arrived at the class, I found no stencils, but I did find some great company. Joining Beth and I was her mother-in-law, Rosemary Hitt, and sisters-in-law, Rachael Hitt and Margo Brockman. Margo’s daughter, Amanda, and

her friend, Margaret Hassell, were also there, as was Rachael’s friend, Mrs. Frances Troxler. My mom, Aunt Judy and my sister, Ann, showed up, too, but our group was not exclusively female. Joey Brady and Eddie Jouty completed this anxious group of artists. “It’s like a family reunion,” Rachael said, and I had to agree, while realizing I would be quite content spending the evening visiting, rather than painting.

Marie DuPont, St. Charles Catholic’s development director, interrupted my thoughts as she got the party started by showing us to our tables. We were each given a blank canvas, a palette of paint and three paint brushes. That’s it! And by the end of the night, we were to transform these simple items into works of art. Suddenly I was stressed. And hungry. Fortunately Cherie Accardo arrived with food. (Cherie chairs the After Prom Party Committee, and the proceeds from the evening of art were directed toward this group, which provides a fun and safe environment, free of drugs and alcohol, for the students after the prom.) Plates piled with salad, shrimp pasta and crab cakes were passed around, and since I had no intention of being a starving artist, I accepted a plate. The food did provide some comfort as I began to draw.

Because Bonnie broke down the drawing into small, easily manageable steps, even I was able to complete a sketch of a fleur de lis. I didn’t spend much time looking around but became more than a little curious when Joey said, “I’m going to paint what Jesus tells me to paint.” We ate, we talked, we sketched, we erased, we sketched some more, and we laughed, and soon we were ready for the paint. Something about filling in the sketch with paint was so soothing to me. Choosing the colors and the intensity with which I would use them had me so focused that I put down my pasta, after eating all of the shrimp, and devoted most of my attention to my art. I could stop eating, but I wasn’t about to ignore the conversations that flowed nonstop.

Before I was ready, the party came to an end as we admired the new artwork we had produced in just a couple of hours. They all looked wonderful, but I must admit Joey’s was the most creative. I guess he listened to Jesus.

Since the party, I’ve been thinking of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” I’ve often thought of my life as a sketch God provides and directs me to fill in a little at a time. I view every season of life as a new space and aim to completely and obediently fill in one before moving on to the next. It doesn’t surprise me that sometimes, even in the midst of doing all I know to do, God allows a little pressure to be applied. This no longer causes me to stop and worry but to go on living and doing and trusting His direction. Later on, as I look back upon those times, I find the pressures provided a richness and a depth to my life (just as deeper colors do in a painting) that I would not have otherwise experienced. And in His mercy, He always gives me ample times of airy, light, fun times to balance things out. The painting party was one of those times.

When I look at my painting, still perched on the stairway of my home, I don’t just see a fleur de lis; I remember the process — the instructions, the effort, the choices, the food, the conversations and the laughter. I still hear the laughter, and I’m so thankful to God for placing so many of His priceless works of art in my life.

Ronny may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.