You know how it is. When you spend time looking at photographs from the past, you remember specific events—the birth of a child, a birthday party, a three-pointer, a winning hit, a wedding, a family Christmas….
Cindy and I treasure our photo albums, both print and digital.
At funeral services I often remind families of the treasure that is theirs—the pictures, the family albums, the memories. That’s what photographs do; they remind us of specific moments in life. They pick a day, an incident, and then freeze it for us. Click! Singular events along the way of life.
But there are other pictures too. Portraits. Oils and watercolors. And they aren’t done in an instant. They grow under the care and direction of the artist. Portraits can tell us more about a person than a picture ever can.
Experts say, when done by a great artist, they show us not only what a person looks like at a particular moment, but also what he was and what she’s becoming. I like that!
I’d like to think that we are all still growing. Not human beings, but human “becomings,” as it were.
Some may not appreciate Picasso’s work, because they don’t look much like the people we know. He once painted the portrait of Gertrude Stein, an American author who lived in France. Stein liked it, and she told him so.
But one critic said, “That doesn’t look much like Gertrude Stein!” “Don’t worry!” Picasso told him. “Someday it will! I’ve caught the essence of Gertrude Stein, and more and more, this is who she’s becoming!”
Even though we remain the same persons from beginning to end, from birth to death, we’re constantly changing, growing, extending ourselves in new ways. Life is meant to be such a journey—a story unfolding.
Portraits of God, the Great Artist, don’t happen overnight. When we can look back over a life well-lived, or even one which was full of twists and turns, it is a wonderful thing when we see all the surprising ways in which God was making us better than we ever thought we could be.
When I stand to offer final words for one whom we have loved, that is a good story to tell, a beautiful picture to behold.