The treasure we carry inside


By Betty Slade

My son nailed me to the wall. “What are you going to do with those cabins? You either have to get rid of them or fix them up. They’re falling down.”

“I know, but it’s not about the cabins, but what’s inside.”

He pushed for an answer I wasn’t ready to give. 

“I’m not ready to do anything. The buildings are full of my art supplies, two mat drawers brimming over with prints. They hold hundreds of pieces of art.”

He hammered another two-penny nail into my board of reasoning. “But, you’re not painting.”

“I might paint again, but not today.”

“You won’t.”

“I might. I’m still an artist at heart. My art represents my life. For 45 years, I was filled with creative promptings and I painted almost every day. In those moments of time, I was captivated by God’s creative beauty and my heart pumped with the joy of God’s presence as I painted. I experienced the fullness of my potential as an artist.”

When is it time to let go? I guess when we can’t hold on any longer. Sounds simple, but not so easy when we are wrapped up in a person, talent or a conviction giving meaning to our existence. They are not our life, but they define our life.

Today, just like my art, I am romanced by every word I write on the page, words flow into phrases, sentences and paragraphs that cause my heart to stir. When someone responds to my words, it brings me once again into a feeling of completeness.

Several years ago, this is what happened when I invited friends to come to my house for the day. I surprised them. “Pick a painting for yourself, one that speaks to you. It’s not so much the subject as how that painting makes you feel inside when you look at it.”

I had marked a few paintings I wanted to keep. My friends ambled through my studio/gallery, almost giddy, as they discussed each painting and where they would hang it. I gave away 17 paintings that day.

It made me happy. It was a God moment. For me to see appreciative hearts and receive a thank you and words of affirmation, it gave me the sense of “it is as it should be.” My art today is still hanging in their homes and cherished. It’s not about letting go, but giving to the ones who I painted them for, knowing or not knowing.

So when my son says, “Time to let go,” I tell him my art carries a treasure in them. I can’t just discard them, but I must pass them on to whom they are intended to be with.

Just like so many of my friends who’ve passed on to the One who has been waiting to receive them. I can’t forget how important they have been to me. They gave gifts of encouragement, prayers and words of advice, thereby imparting their love to me.

They, too, were earthen vessels and the treasure bestowed in them was the excellence of the power of God. It’s how God had touched their lives, thereby touching mine. I was changed by virtue of who they were and knowing them.

Like paintings or well-formed words in a story, our friends are a composition of beautiful colors, strokes of genius and generous hearts. They become a part of our lives to help us define who we are.

I am reminded of a man who many know in our great little town of Pagosa. If you bought a piece of lumber or a can of paint, you probably met Mark Crain.

I received a note from him. He is one of my readers. Any time I walked into the lumber company, he would holler from across several aisles. “Keep writing and don’t be too hard on Sweet Al.”

Mark did not know how those words encouraged me to keep writing. I needed to hear that someone was reading my work every week. He still encourages me from Fredericksburg, Texas.

“Dearest Sweet Betty, Greetings from Mr. Mark Crain. I hope that this finds you all well and in great spirits. Simple request, do you publish your weekly writing online or is it only in the SUN? Since we have moved to Fredericksburg, Texas, some three months ago, I have kept up with you thru the SUN online … Wanda is a friend of yours on Facebook at your request and I read your entry today looking out the kitchen window! What a beautiful blessing as always. It would be so special to add your work into my study times. Love you as always and wish you the Best. Mark Crain”

Final brushstroke: People come along and see something in us and they make a place in their heart for us to flourish. As artists and writers, we come along and see something beautiful and when we share it with friends, we open their hearts to the treasure they carry. They are better because of us. We are better because of them. 

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