Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Glimpses into the Past...

Pocahantas' Baptism, a painting in the Capital's Rotunda

"A morsel of genuine history, a thing so rare..."
Thomas Jefferson, 1817
Much of what we saw on our trip were glimpses into the past.  I was astounded to see, that not only in the National Gallery of Art but in every site we visited, the place that art played in preserving history.  Before the photographers, there were the artists.  By the Civil War, there were 1500 photographers on the battlefield sending images of the terrible cost of war. Still, from monuments to museums, art tells the story of our past.  As an art major, this gave a greater sense of significance to the gifts God gives his children, gifts to share with others through the centuries.  In this time of my life, I feel almost driven to offer in art and writing gifts that God has placed in my soul.  Like the sand that sifts swiftly through an hour glass, I don't know how many times I can flip it over to begin again.

In Scripture, it is recorded in Exodus 36:2 a description of the artists used in the fine arts in building the temple: "Moses called...*every skilled person in whom the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him to come to the work to perform it."  *"man wise of heart."  I like the connotation calling the artists, those skilled persons as "wise of heart.

Even those who chiseled the words onto the monuments, or inscribed them onto pages, words that someone wrote capturing an entire life, left a gift behind.  Here's what was written in a church's record book in Wales in 1748...
" kind and always right;
His purposes are warm & bright,
He lives a pure devoted life,
And keeps his sheep from
nought and strife."
In the George Washington's family cemetery were interesting inscriptions...
"As a judge, he was wise and just,
A man of Truth, hating covetousness.
Firm in every honour-able purpose & pursuit 
Yet gentle, humane, and condescending*.
A sincere Christian
Doing in all things the will of his Master
And resting his hope of eternal happiness
Alone on the righteousness of Jesus Christ."
Judge Bushrod Washington, nephew of the President,
(Mt. Vernon was bequeathed to him after Washington's death.)
*This word had a different connotation than now.

What mark will you leave? 
It doesn't have to be in art,
but in a life lived with integrity
as a man or woman wise of heart.




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