Tuesday, November 8, 2011


The email said: "We have to write a paper on our favorite artist. I picked you. Can you answer the following questions about yourself?"

This was a strong encouragement in my hectic day. My ex-student had to write a school paper on famous artists...and she chose me! I looked happily at the list of questions.
#1.  When were you born?
"That's easy," I said, typing in ,"Not yesterday."
#2. What style of art? What medium?
"Hmmm...eclectic, I guess...but probably would be most aligned with the expressionistic movement. (Google it- I'm not writing your paper for you!) However, I don't really have a single style. In fact, a major criticism I often hear is that I have no style...but you might not want to put that in your paper."
#3  What makes you significant?
"You mean other than being the only one in the family with green eyes?"

Now this is a hard question. It is the sort of answer that is engraved on tombstones. Living people rarely know their significance. Or if they do, they are a little self absorbed, don't you think? I suppose by significance, the teacher doesn't want to know what makes every human being significant, that she  has been created by a loving God who knew her before He knit her together in the womb and numbers every hair on her head? Or that I am part of the body of Christ and that if any part of the body does not be who she was designed to be, the whole body suffers?"
I paused and considered all the implications of this question.
We all yearn for significance. We all want to love and be loved. We all experience pain and suffering and despair and most of us find the strength to weather it one way or another. We all had mothers and fathers and most of us were the light of their life. Still, even beyond that, all of us want to have impacted the world in some important way.

On this day in 1895, physicist Wilhelm Rontgen observed xrays, forever changing medicine and disease detection, as well as pornographic machines at the airport screening gate. Now that is significance! Picasso changed the flavor of modern art, dabbling in so many different break-through styles, that he set the art world's heads spinning out of control. Rachel could have chosen Picasso....he was undoubtedly significant.

But the young girl that I had taught for years in my little art class chose me. I suppose, from her perspective, I was a great artist, in the same way that all parents are great until the child reaches age 13.

#3. Significance....com'on...you can answer this one!

I thought of Enoch, in Genesis Chapter 5, who has four sentences in the Bible about him. All we know of Enoch is that he was born, had some kids, and then:
"24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."
In a litany of births and deaths recounted in that chapter, the refreshing significance of Enoch was that he didn't exactly die...he was no more, taken away by God. We presume it was because he was so faithful in his walk with God, that even God could not bear to see him die.
Now that's significance!

#3 Significance- the paper is due soon. Answer now, or I am moving on to some other second rate great artist wannabe.

"Ok, I am significant in that I am the world's foremost iPod artist. I draw at least one picture a day on my iPod, and have over 700 iPod masterpieces. I feel very confident no other artist can make this claim."

Oh, how I wish I could be a fly on the wall when Rachel's teacher reads her paper. Her teacher probably won't understand that my significance has nothing to do with my talent or my style or my medium. My significance was that a little girl who loved to draw lived nearby and came to my art classes. I loved her and I loved art, and a little of my passion must have spilled over into her heart. And perhaps that is as significant as I will ever be to anyone, but for today, it has made me glow with deep satisfaction.

Genesis 5:
 21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

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