Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kids Paint the Darndest Things

I have the privilege of being a visual arts Sunday school teacher this semester, ministering to a mixed-age class of five to eleven year-olds.  At the beginning of September, our children's minister whitewashed the tables in the art room, and we "commissioned" four tabletop murals depicting themes from the Bible.

The older kids tackled Moses and his burning bush.  The flaming heart above is at the center of their design. As a collector of milagros, I love that another teacher in our room thought to suggest this, inspiring a discussion about ex votos, sacre coeurs and the flaming heart as a common theme appearing in the religious folk art of various cultures. The bush wraps around both sides of the table:

The third graders depicted the story of Abram ("count the stars in the night sky, and that is how many descendants you shall have"), borrowing heavily on "Starry Night" imagery:

So far, so good, right? Now we get to the little kid masterpieces.  One table of kindergarteners and first graders painted a Nativity scene.  The stables are in the middle, there are angels off to the right, and above the angels - outer space.  Kicking myself that I didn't take a photo of outer space to share with you, but I did snap a pic of the candy shop located in the heart of Bethlehem's central business district:

Makes sense.  Pay your taxes, spend your last shekel on some saltwater taffy as a little pick-me-up.

Another group of small ones channeled their inner Leonardos and produced a version of "The Last Supper":

Looks entirely conventional when viewed from 30,000 feet, but let's take a look at some of the details:

See the small person sitting at a table behind the waiter?  (Yup, Baldy's a waiter - because SOMEONE had to serve them all of that food.)  That is a diner in another section of the "restaurant" in which Jesus' feast was held.


1.  YAY!  Depth and perspective.

2.  How humbling to learn that Jesus couldn't score the private banquet facility at the Applebee's, or whatever equivalent of the Applebee's they had in suburban Jerusalem.  Maybe he didn't ask for the private room - man of the people, and all.

But my favorite detail of all is this one:

See that pink oval?  It's a HAM.  "Because you eat ham on special occasions."  Well, sure you do.  We can get into the meaning of keeping kosher later.  The important thing is that they recognize that this was a very special meal, and when you are planning a very special meal, a trip to the Honeybaked Ham store typically is in order.

We left the ham exactly as they painted it (the second largest item on the table next to the wine bottle - "because little kids drank wine back then, since the water had germs").  If anyone objects, we'll say it's challah - or one of those pink conchas that are my favorite form of pan de huevo to munch on while admiring my milagros.

Reminds me of the Christmas song, "Some Children See Him":

The children in each different place
will see the baby Jesus' face
like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
and filled with holy light.

Love, love, LOVE seeing faith through the eyes of children.

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