Rebecca and the Blank Canvas

Rebecca and the Blank Canvas (1,193)

June 30th, 2011

Rebecca was confused. Maybe better stated—confounded. Or are those two words really the same?

Peeking out her window, she saw it once again. Sitting on her porch was a blank canvas and a can of black paint. She slowly opened her door, walked out and stood looking at the two items. She realized that confusion was unnecessary because this had been the event her entire life. Every morning she would look on her porch and see a blank canvas and a can of black paint. As she gazed out across the neighborhood, she saw the same two items perched on every doorstep as far as the eye could see. What did it mean?

The canvas was pretty obvious—just a surface available for paint. But why black paint? She hated black (even though she hated to use the word “hate” because she didn’t like it.) Black was so dark, so permanent, so one-dimensional. So she made a practice of never opening the can of paint. Well, wait a second. There was that one time when curiosity overtook her and she cracked open the can, picked up a stick and stirred it, looking at the gooey, dark liquid. Yuck. It was like tar that had lost its will to be sticky. So she never did it again and chose to resume ignoring the can of paint. But that left her with a blank canvas. And always, it remained just that.

Across the street, Bill and Belle made a point of taking their can of black liquid and smearing it all over their canvas every morning and displaying it for all to see. They seemed pleased enough with their results, but Rebecca always thought it was ugly. And certainly the action of creating their painting never made Bill and Belle seem very happy.

No, it was a mixed bag. Many people in the community chose to use their paint on their blank canvas and others left them free of any interference whatsoever. And it seemed that some folks didn’t even recognize that the gift had been deposited in their proximity.

On this particular day, Rebecca was thinking about her life and how just six short years ago she had lost her husband, but had taken the son the two of them had procreated and had turned him into a fine, young man and a friend, and how earlier in the year she had been struck down by a car and left for dead, only to resurrected by the good graces of God and some caring physicians.

She was still thinking about her recent journey when a man came walking by, carrying his canvas and to her great astonishment, it sported some color. Yes, there was blue, green, a bit of pink and what appeared to be a shade of orange. She gasped. He was about to walk on by when she called after him.

“Excuse me, sir!”

He paused, pivoted, and said, “May I help you, ma’am?”

Rebecca said, ‘Yes, you may. I was wondering where you got the color on your canvas? Because quite frankly, the only color ever delivered to my abode is black .”

He stepped towards her and with a chuckle, replied, “Oh, I get that, too. One day I took my canvas and instead of just looking at it, I reached out and touched it. And you know what I discovered?”

Rebecca shook her head, baffled.

“When my hands touched the canvas, color came from my fingertips. It wasn’t very pretty at first. Mostly browns and dark grays. But as I gained confidence that the power of color was within my grasp, I found that some dark blues, reds and even some glorious greens appeared. Look!” He pointed to his canvas. “This morning, from my own touch, came a little bit of purple. Isn’t that amazing?”

Rebecca peered at the canvas and noted the beautiful hue. “Yes,” she said. “It’s gorgeous. But how did you know to put your canvas in your own hands?”

The man shook his head. “I didn’t. It’s just that I realized I had a canvas and it would remain blank if I did nothing with it, and I was certainly unwilling to use the black paint. So what I did one morning is I took my can of black paint and threw it away (being careful to keep it out of the reach of small children or where it might harm helpless animals.)”

“You threw it away?” queried Rebecca.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I didn’t know you could do that,” said Rebecca.

“Oh, that’s the problem,” the man replied. “We all think we’re limited by what we can do so we choose to work with the darkness instead of using what’s within our touch.” With this he turned and walked away, humming a tune that sounded familiar, yet somehow brand new.

Rebecca took a moment to look around her neighborhood. The day was beginning. Folks were discovering their canvases and reluctantly picking up their cans of black paint to construct their daily portraits. She grabbed her own can of paint. How ridiculous to put black paint on a blank canvas, because all it did was make the beauty of the surface disappear. Yes, black always covers whatever it touches.

She ran into her backyard and threw the black paint into the trash. She came back and nervously reached out to touch her canvas. Pouring from her fingertips was a golden hue. She was astonished. She reached out again. There was a beautiful green—the color of the leaves. Her canvas was no longer blank, and the more she reached out to caress her own painting, the more beautiful it became.

She paused for a moment and thought, “I wonder if this is what heaven is like? Could it be a gallery of all of our earthly canvases and what we decided to paint? And tens of thousands of visitors from everywhere come to view the beauty of our paintings? Wouldn’t that be something?”

But on this day heaven seemed far away.

And on this day, heaven was unnecessary—because color was at Rebecca’s fingertips.

Published in: on June 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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