Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Master's Piece

It is the last night of the year and today has been a great day, despite the fact that I seem to have finally lost the battle to fight off Bethany and Erin’s cold. The minister at Lennoxville United church had the chance to go away and spend some time with his family and Mom offered to plan the service and put everything together, as long as she didn’t have to do the sermon (that always was Mom’s least favourite part about being a Minister)! As part of her Christmas present, I volunteered to do that part, as long as the local church had no objection to a lay person preaching.

As I sat down to write tonight’s blog entry, I realised that what I spoke about this morning already summed up all my hopes, dreams and outlook for the year ahead... and so I have posted it here for you to read.

If you would prefer not to read anything of a religious nature, please just skip over this entry and catch me in 2007, knowing that I wish you well.


A Master’s Piece by Jennifer Aikman-Smith

There’s something about a blanket of freshly fallen snow...the way it turns everything into puffy, marshmellow-like lumps...the way it brings out that inner child longing to race though the backyard and be the first one to make any tracks.
Yet all to soon, tires and boots turn roads and sidewalks, parking lots and store entrances into brown slushy swamps.

Today is New Year's Eve... the brink of a New Year with all its possibilities, all of its potential - a NEW BEGINNING of sorts.
Surely I'm not the only one who is hoping that 2007 will be different from the year 2006!

Have you been asked yet what your New Year?s Resolutions will be?
When you think about it... it?s no wonder that many people hate making them, because we seem DOOMED to FAIL from the very beginning. Just stand in line at the grocery store and REALLY look at some of the magazine titles!
"Lose Ten Pounds Before Swimsuit Season" one banner cries.... superimposed over a glossy photo of a double decker cheesecake drenched in hot fudge sauce and the headline "Quick and Easy Chocolate Desserts Your Whole Family Will Love!"

A New Year is like a new piece of paper, a new journal, a new sketchbook or a brand new set of coloured pencils.
None of the tips are worn down yet. There are no silly doodles or drawings with mistakes... no words we wish we'd never written or said. Why do MISTAKES, or the making of them, scare us so much?

When I was a student in Fine Arts at Mount Allison University, one of my printmaking professors was the engraver David Silverburg. His studio was filled with over a hundred sketchbooks from his travels to different countries and each book overflowed with the most amazing line drawings I had ever seen. He would capture people and places with just a few beautiful lines. There were no rough pencil marks beneath the ink drawings to guide him. He simply sketched in ink.
I was in Awe!

I tried to do the same, sketching in ink or felt pen so that my first marks were the ones that stayed.
You couldn't go back and erase anything...
you just had to work with it.
But all I could see were my MISTAKES.

You would think that in the 20 years that followed, I would have learned to live with the fact that even famous illustrators such as Norman Rockwell are seldom satisfied with what their own hands produce. This summer, I finally had the chance to illustrate a children's book for a Moncton author and that same fear of making mistakes haunted me for the 10 weeks that it took to create the 30 illustrations for the book.

Most of us tend to find fault even in those things that we do well.
We look for mistakes and point them out before others have a chance to.

My Mom has a board game where you share memories and stories from your past with those around the table playing the game with you. As each player reaches the end, they have to sit and listen to all of the other players say something nice about them. It is amazing how hard and embarrassing it is to sit there and listen to those words of praise... even for me- the ultimate extrovert!

Why do we find it so hard to accept compliments? Is it because we can only see the mistakes, or flaws,
when we look inside ourselves and think "If they really knew me... they wouldn't think I was so wonderful!"

Yes, here we are on the brink of a New Year... with all of its new beginnings and possibilities, but we can also feel as if we are bringing all of our baggage... our mistakes... our "slush" with us into those bright new Tomorrows.

Who we have been is a part of who we are. The things that have shaped each of our lives cannot just be dismissed...
but we can look at them in a different way.

As a cross stitch designer, working with threads instead of paint to create my images has taught me to think of my life as a tapestry. There are the bright golden and silver threads of special times and places or things that I have done well...
There is the incredible variety of colours from my everyday living and
actions that weave and blend to create row after row... and there are the darker threads which add richness and depth to the pattern.

It would not be as rich a design if any of these threads were missing!

I also remind myself, sometimes daily, that I cannot always see the whole pattern of my life's weaving yet... and that there is no thread that I work into my life that a Master Weaver cannot use to make the whole a thing of beauty.

The message is there if we can listen to it through the din of the world around us...
whispered in Psalms, shouted in the Miracle of the Resurrection.....
if only we can even begin to truly believe it.

We are NOT alone. We live in GOD's world.

There is no mistake, mark or blemish on our life's drawing that keeps it from being beautiful when we give it as a gift to our Creator... for when we feel like scrumpling up that picture and throwing it in the trash... it is God who, like a proud parent, smoothes out the wrinkles and puts it up on the fridge for all to see.

In Life, In Death, In Life Beyond Death... God Is With Us!
We Are NOT Alone!

We do not have to be a Masterpiece in the world's eyes....
for we are already a Master's piece.


Thanks Be To God!

7 comments:

Bastet said...

Thank-you so much Jennifer for sharing your sermon. My Great-Uncle (God rest his soul) was a lay minister for all the time i knew him till his death many years ago. Much of what you wrote hit home and made me think of this past year and it's tolls and trouble, and hope that all will start fresh and new in this coming year.

Thank-you as well for all the charts that you've created both freebies and buying. They are wonderful and full of character, and well loved by many....me included.

Happy New Year!

Amanda

Geri said...

Thank you again for your 'sight' and God bless you today and throughout the new year ... day by day, moment by moment ...

Teresa said...

Thank you, Jen, for sharing this!

Karen said...

Thank-you Jennifer for that wonderful reminder to all of us - to see the positive instead of dwelling on our faults!! It's something we all need to be reminded of - often!!
And remember that a compliment is a gift to which we need to learn to just say thank-you!!

Charlie Rosenberger said...

Thank-you "Rev.Jen", your words are just the thing needed as we cross the dividing line between what was, and what is yet to be.

Warmest regards to you and yours for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Charlie Rosenberger

Anonymous said...

Wow, Jen, that was really beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I think hope for the future is one of the intertwining bits of all faiths. That was beautiful, Jen. Thank you for sharing it...and getting your Mom off the hook! I bet she appreciated it.

Cheers and Happy New Year.