Nov 9, 2011

What Happens in the Face of Beauty

We’re covered in paint, and the lawn is too, fenced in brown, the geese calling autumn and trees dropping leaves. Everywhere, color. Color is music for the eyes.

We’re finger-painting in the grass, my son and I. He’s one-and-a-half and he’s never done this before. Neither have I.

Everything is new to him, fresh and thrilling and this newness is the mystery behind a heart of worship. It’s a mystery I’ve been cultivating since I was old enough to understand that the world isn’t what I need it to be.

The canvas is cheap, from the Dollar Store, but it won’t matter, hanging on the wall in our house like a masterpiece. The color is what matters—the red and blue which make purple, and the yellow and blue which make green, and the mixing of it all to make heaven.

He’s covered in heaven and so am I. It is kingdom-come, and it happens to those with child-hearts, for children have the courage to picture the world differently.

There’s something about touching heaven that changes a person and even as we wash away the paint we feel it, the way it slip-slides and wet-splashes and slops. The way it doesn’t matter how the colors exist, only that they do, and I wish I’d painted with my fingers sooner. For all of the art I did as a child, it was too linear. Pencil-sketched and grey.

Later we pull out the cotton balls and feel them soft between fingers. The sun is warm on our skin. “Warm is the color red,” I tell him.

We don’t take enough time to enjoy our senses. To savor tastes and sounds and textures and light. The roughness of corduroy pants, the shadows on the floor as the sun shifts, the pink in a child’s cheeks as he laughs—this beauty, this unnecessary detail, is mystery.

We run through the woods crunching leaves with our feet and Aiden laughs, for this is what happens in the face of beauty. There are no words; just the shock of discovering something bigger than your soul.

The paint is dry now. We trace the outlines of our handprints, our footprints, and no matter what happens—no matter what sickness or heartache or death—these prints are permanent.

We wash our painted hands in the sink and my boy sticks his feet in and splashes. Then we hang the painting above his desk, the little white desk splayed with crayons and paper. And every time he sits, he looks up at the art we made that fall afternoon. Stares up at the love made tangible. And he smiles.

Image by Emily and Aiden Wierenga. Used with permission. Post by Emily Wierenga, author of Save My Children: The Story of a Father's Love.

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