This post was originally published on December 14, 2016 ~ It was DELETED BY A HACKER! Fortunately my wonderful son had recently backed up all of my files for me. I HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH and THESE FILES ARE MINE. You may disagree with me, but deleting me is AGAINST THE LAW.
My latest oil painting was inspired by my late parents’ 1971 ceramic Nativity set. My mom poured the molds and my dad hand-painted the figures. This set is one of my most treasured possessions, and one of the few things I was worried about moving to Ireland and back. Did the set make it? If only one piece made it, it will have been worth the cost to ship it. I wanted something, something to hold on to from the original set.
I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath, until I opened the bin and started to breathe again. I didn’t see any signs of breakage so far! The camels were mostly unscathed. One camel had a slight clip on the base – no big deal. Out came the goats, the sheep, the shepherds, the wise men… all without a scratch! But then, but then… oh my heart sank.
The side pieces of the barn made it, but the main structure had a complete roof collapse. Had any of the precious figures made it? Were they all broken, shattered? I rescued Joseph and the angel from the rubble. I found baby Jesus – He was safe and sound! But Mary, where was Mary? She was under the worst of it. I told myself that I’d be fine… this was just a ceramic figure, only one of many. All the rest were fine. Hadn’t I said that “if only one” made it, I’d have something? And now, I can’t bear if unless ALL of them made it?
I reached my hand under the broken pieces of ceramic. I found her. Whatever shape she was in, I’d soon know. Miraculously, Mary was completely unharmed! I couldn’t believe it! How could that be? The stable building had been crushed exactly where she had been tucked inside. It may seem like a small thing, but, I’ve lost so much and this set meant the world to me. That small miracle showed me that God sees… He sees me and the little things.
ALL of the figures of the original Nativity set were intact and as beautiful as I remembered them. I felt more hopeful the whole rest of that day. And whenever I look at the figures I’m reminded of seeing Mary, with not even a chip or a crack in what is by now fragile ceramic that has been moved dozens of times.
The main building may be a total loss… I’ve left it out, hoping that we can salvage it somehow. But if we can’t, that’s OK. I have more than I expected to have. I stared at the figures, thinking about how many years they’ve survived, how many homes they’ve lived in… how much life and death they’ve seen. I thought about how my father gave me my artist genes, and how he lives on through me. And that’s when I was inspired to bring my parents’ ceramic pieces to life – I’d paint them!
And I did. Somehow I think they know this. They were proud of that set, and they should be. I’ll treasure it for as long as I’m blessed to have it. Mary has been through a lot already. I think she’ll hold up for another generation and beyond. Here’s the art I was inspired to paint… the Nativity.