Looking out the restaurant’s large window, I gazed at Main Street below. The street in this mountain town, Highlands, NC, which would be teeming with tourists in a few months during peak season, was now deserted on this chilly day. Inside was warm but almost empty.
My husband and I sat at a beautifully set table in the elegant dining room of an historic inn. Another couple sat nearby. Other than our quiet conversations, the only sound in the dining room was an occasional clink of fork to plate or murmured question from the server.
When we finished dessert (I have such a sweet tooth), my husband looked over at me with a grin. “Let’s go to the art gallery,” he said. I grinned too, thinking the perfect complement to a delicious meal would be a feast for the eyes. Maybe we could find something to commemorate the reason for our trip here--our first anniversary.
It had been a wonderful and sometimes stressful year of becoming a couple and a blended family all at once. Our paths to each other had taken many loops and twists, but God had brought us together, surprising and amazing us both.
Parking in front of the gallery, we buttoned our coats and hopped out of the car. When we walked through the front door, the overcast day vanished in the bright lights and colorful canvases. Surely there would be something special here.
He stopped to look at the paintings close to the front, and I moved on ahead. When I turned a corner, I saw a painting that stopped me in my tracks. It was large, first of all, and the blend of colors in the jar shape jumped off the canvas: greens, purples, blues, pinks. Wow.
I called my husband over and he had a similar reaction. “It’s a jar of clay,” he said, referring to a familiar and well-loved passage in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:7.
“Yes,” I said. “Like us.”
He and I came into our marriage with cracks and broken places that have been restored by Jesus, but traces of those places remain to remind us where we came from and what God has done for us. They remind us to look to him for strength and purpose and to show compassion and understanding to others.
The painting cost a bit more than we'd planned to spend. We left reluctantly and hurried through the cold down the street to the coffee shop. Over steaming cups of coffee and chai, we talked about what the painting symbolized to us. Discussing our budget, we decided that if we both still felt strongly about the painting the next day, we'd get it. And not buy any more art for a long time.
Now, twelve years later, the painting hangs in our living room, still as striking as when we first saw it. Its beauty takes us back to that trip when we celebrated our first year of marriage and the way God had worked in our lives to bring us together.
What about you? Do you have an object or image of beauty that is somehow meaningful to you? I'd love to hear in the comments below.
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