Do you recall when someone last read you a bedtime story? I had that luxury some years back when a friend with whom I was staying overnight offered to read one that had been read to her. It was Paint Me a Masterpiece, Chapter 24 of Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie, a cartoonist and writer, previously with the Vancouver Sun and Hallmark Cards. My bedtime story created a gigantic shift in MY thinking! I share with you a shortened version.
Paraphrasing and personalizing the story, God outlines the exhausting journey I would take in the process of being born, shows me an artist's canvas and says he would appreciate if I would paint him a Masterpiece. I agreed. All goes according to plan, except that, upon my arrival, the big people - adults - see the pristine canvas and take it away for safe-keeping. When they give it back years later it contains lines and numbers, and a message that I was to paint within the lines and follow the numbers in sequence. The implication was that if I followed the rules and worked hard, my life would be a Masterpiece.
Later, after reflecting on the story and my life's Masterpiece I realized, as did the author, it wasn't mine at all, it was made up of what I thought I should do, or what I believed was the 'responsible' thing to do. For sixty years I had (more or less) followed the rules (of others), worked hard, and occasionally - with great daring - coloured outside the lines, often resulting in new beginnings that took me back 'inside the lines'. It was time to pay heed to Robert Louis Stevenson's words: "To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying 'amen' to what the world tells you, is to keep your soul alive."
MacKenzie's book is a creative masterpiece of words and colourful illustrations. He ends his story with the reminder that we each have a Masterpiece inside us, one unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be, and that if we go to our grave without painting it, it will not get done, for there is no one else who can create it. Wherever you are in your life, may you look at your life anew, and ask yourself, as I did: "Is this MY Masterpiece?"
That story was read to me fifteen years ago; obviously its impact has never been forgotten. More recently a friend gifted me with my first colouring book of mandalas, each with an inspirational quotation. Slowly, randomly selecting coloured pencils on a whim, it is nearing completion, and yes, at times I have gone outside the lines! In addition to being an enjoyable brand new experience, it is also a meditative one, as my mind goes to a still place when I colour, thus creating a peaceful ending to my day.
We have much to commemorate this month. November 11 - Remembrance Day in Canada, Veterans Day in the USA - when we honour those who died in the line of duty; friends south of the border will celebrate their Thanksgiving on November 23rd. Another special recognition is on November 13th, World Kindness Day. American essayist, Washington Irving, wrote: "A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles." May you continue to strengthen the threads of kindness that bind us, with a kind heart to another, and to yourself. Until next time, I wish you rich blessings and, should you choose, happy colouring!
Rev. Dorothy Blandford, Ph.D
Apt. 202 - 1655 Martin Drive
Surrey, BC, V4A 6E1, Canada