|St. Agnes Holding the Lamb of Innocence|
When I paint a St. Agnes statue, I am reminded of the innocence of my own childhood and the things that impacted me the most. I am reminded of the people I love who taught me what was important and how they unknowingly influenced my life. Not a day goes by when I don't remember the things I learned even though at the time I didn't realize I was learning a thing.
|The Seedling My Aunt and I planted when I was seven|
She taught me that time passes and things change without ever saying a word. She taught me that nurturing and caring is something important to do for other living things. She taught me that one modest deed could make me remember her every time I look at that tree even 56 years after we planted it. How did she know the effect it would have on me to see a 6" seedling grow into an 80 foot tree?
"Clasp your hands together and interlace your fingers. Now, make a steeple with your index fingers and put your thumbs up to make the doors." To this day, I have never clasp my hands in prayer without remembering my mother teaching me how to pray. With those modest instructions she taught me symbolism and the meaning of prayer. She taught me how to be respectful and how to be humble in my requests. Did she know with that one simple lesson my heart would swell with love every single time I clasp my hands, especially after she was gone?
On my 5th birthday, I had a swim party with 6 other little girls. We went to the river at the park on a hot day in June. We swam, ate sandwiches, made sandcastles, and swam some more. Then with sun-burnt noses, we went back to my house to have cake and ice cream. It was then that the sheriff knocked on the door looking for a little girl who had been celebrating her birthday at the park where we had just been. She had disappeared. And for a split second, before we sorted out the details, they though I was that little girl. For my entire life, I have wondered why she drowned and not me. We both had birthdays on the same weekend. We both had friends to play with, adults watching us and cake and ice cream to eat. I have never had a birthday where I didn't think about her. I have since looked up her name and I know she would be 63 this year. Her name was Cheryl Johnston and she had a brother. I have not forgotten her or the day we unknowingly shared.
|St. Agnes Statue from Chris Hart Studio|
When I look up at the tree Aunt Gertrude and I planted so many years ago, I appreciate St. Agnes, the Patron Saint of Young Girls and Gardening. When I interlace my fingers in prayer as my mother taught me so many years ago, I think of the virtue of St. Agnes at a young age challenged for what she believed. When I have a birthday or I tie my shoes, I remember the innocence of a young girl as she finds her way.
The simple acts of others in our lives become the fertilizer out of which grows something meaningful. Our experiences get tossed in and turned under, then percolate and transform into something richer. St. Agnes helps us appreciate the innocence of our childhood and the influence of others as we grow.