Painting with the Least of these…A glimpse of heaven

It was Monet she most reminded me of…the colors…the brush strokes.

I was standing in front of a field of flowers.

Every color and hue came from the 4 colors of paint I placed on her canvas.

It was remarkable!

Every month I have the privilege of painting with some of earth’s most special residents. Once again, they become like children…yet they carry the wisdom and wounds of life.

I think when Jesus talks about children in the Bible…the elderly are also included…

“He put a child in the middle of the room.

Then Cradling the little one in his arms,

he said,

“whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me,

and far more than me–God who sent me.””

~Jesus, Mark 9:36-37, The message

Sadly, so many spend these last years of their life alone and isolated. Just waiting…for that someone special to greet them again…the next meal or activity…to be put into bed…to stop feeling pain…or just a passing from this life.

For this brief time, I share my love of creating with them….and my love for them.

With a reference photo, blank canvas, some paint colors and a brush in hand…we begin to playfully add colors and lines and shapes.

Often I wonder what each of them are thinking…and seeing.

I love hearing the explanations of their paintings AFTER they decide what it is. Even a title might come for their painting… “Squirrel Admires Stacked Pumpkin at Dawn”.

This brings so much laughter and joy.

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.”

–Edgar Degas

Others take a little more coaxing. I might mix together some colors for them…or put an outline on their canvas for a starting point.

Some do better with the paint directly on the canvas in puddles…like my sweet “Monet artist”. I quickly learned this when I would see them creating these beautiful masterpieces on the plates of paint rather than the canvas.

For others, I put my hand on theirs to show them how color appears on the stark white canvas in front of them.

And then there are the compliant ones…”just painting”.

Amazing what creations happen when this process starts!

One of my favorite memories was of a brand new resident where I was teaching. She was very convinced that she was NOT going to paint…she had NO interest in painting…and absolutely could NOT paint!

Attempting to keep her interest as I was setting up, finally she had brush in hand. Reluctantly a brush stroke was made…and then the switch happened…instantly! It was as if it was the first time she ever painted. I hope I never forget this moment…she had become truly childlike.

Ever color she added was followed by squeals and exclamations of “I didn’t know I could do that!” “I didn’t know I could make that color!” “No one ever told me that!” “I didn’t learn that when I was in school”.

The pure joy and childlike excitement was like

getting a glimpse into heaven itself!

So often in the busyness of our lives we can put off the simple things we have been called into this world to do. We are living in a world of constant news and noise coming through the palms of our hands. Our hands are losing their effectiveness and strength…purpose, if I might be so bold. Just think of the things we are trading when we allow a barrage of media incessantly consume us.

Join me in being intentional in laying our phones down. Visiting that loved one…or if possible, the lonely elderly person you haven’t met yet.

Include them in some painting…you never know how much this might bless them and you!

Listen to their stories…their songs…even if they are in Italian…those are the best! Let them talk to you about the loved one that they are waiting on to pick them up for dinner…even though you know they aren’t.

Hug them…touch their hand…pray for their healing…tell them Jesus loves them…and one day soon they will get to see him and do all the things they once loved to do again.

These are the ones Jesus tells us that when we receive, love, serve…

we are receiving Him!

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