Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to Draw a Cat

     You just never know what adventures await you at the FedEx store. As I entered with my package, a woman stood at the counter writing on her box, "Happy Holidays Fed Ex!"
     "That is so sweet!" I said.
     "Yes, just think of all the packages they have to lift this season."
     "That's true. I love that idea!"
     So I took the marker and wrote, "Happy Holidays, Fed Ex" on my package, and then drew a smiley face and put a Santa hat on it.
     "Wow," said the lady behind the counter.
      "That's really good!" said the lady with the other package.
I looked at my smiley face Santa. It had taken 3 seconds, and honestly was at the bottom of my totem pole of drawing skill. What had they seen that I was taking for granted?
     "Well....it is just a smiley face."
     "But the way you drew that hat...it is just really good."
     Hmmmm. I looked at it again to try and see it through their eyes, "I am an artist."
     "I can't even draw a cat," said the lady behind the counter a little sadly, "Just this morning my daughter, she's 2 years old, told me 'Mama, draw me a cat.'  I just drew a blob. My daughter told me, 'That's not a cat, mama, draw me a cat."
    I laughed, " I can teach you how to draw a cat in ten seconds."
    "You can?"
     "Sure, got scrap paper?"
She quickly pulled some cashier tape off her roll. I picked up the magic marker again.
     "See, drawing is easy if you break it down into basic shapes. The head is a circle, the body is a triangle, the front legs are rectangles, back haunches half circles, and the paws are ovals. Then the tail is a banana shape. The ears are obviously triangles, the eyes lemon shapes, the nose a triangle, and the mouth a w."
     She peered at my drawing and took the magic marker from me. She repeated my steps out loud as she constructed her cat.
     "Well look at that," she said, looking happily at her drawing.
     "What's your daughter's name?"
 I took the magic marker and wrote on my drawing, "To Madison, Merry Christmas."
The lady clapped her hands and gathered up both drawings, "Well now I can draw a cat!"

     Thomas Paine once said, "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
This is often true, and helps me to wade through tortuous circumstances sometimes without giving up. However, sometimes the smaller the task, the easier the simple gesture of kindness, the more heart warming the triumph.
     One of my favorite stories from the Bible is when Elijah comes upon the widow of Zarephath. He is thirsty and hungry, but she is gathering the sticks for the last bit of food and water she and her son have. After they eat that tiny bit, they will lie down and die, she tells Elijah. With this cheery news, Elijah tells her that she should make him a loaf of bread to eat first, and then all will be well. I would likely have spit in his face, trying to take the bread out of my baby's mouth. However, the widow obeyed, with an act of infinite trust and kindness. She fed him her last loaf of bread. A tiny loaf, no doubt. An insignificant offering to the prophet of the most High and Holy God. As a result, her family never again ran out of bread and oil, and they provided not only for themselves, but for Elijah as well. Simple gestures of kindness never evaporate without a ripple of glory.
     I wish I could see the face of the sweating FedEx worker as he heaves two boxes in a row wishing him a Happy Holiday...or the face of little Madison when as if by magic, her mama who could not draw a cat this morning, could draw a cat tonight.

1 Kings 17:
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
 12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’”
 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

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