He was in first-year middle school and in the art class, the teacher put a vase with flowers on her desk and asked the class to paint what they saw. The priest writing in Biblelife recounts the experience as a child who thought he was a gifted artist and the lesson he learned.
They were given two hours to work on their masterpiece and many of the students who had no taste for art, found the time boring; he relished the opportunity to show his genius. He finished the painting in a little over an hour and felt very pleased with his efforts. He was ready to receive the exclusive attention of the beautiful art teacher for his achievement. The painting was in his eyes perfect he had no regrets. He was another Vincent Van Gogh.
The teacher walked up and down the rows in the class, stopped at his place and began to look carefully at what he had painted. He was humbly ready to hear words of praise for his masterpiece; however, that was not the case. It was more a critique of what he had painted than praise. 'Wonderful', 'extraordinary', 'exceptional', 'great', were not the words he heard, but 'too much', 'a little more', 'this would have been better,' and the like. As he was trying to figure out what the words of the teacher meant, she took the brush and began to change what he had painted. The priest said he was completely befuddled by it all.
The white vase became yellow; the leaves became purplish. He was ready to cry out in protest. His creation was being destroyed, and he didn't want to see any more, and closed his eyes. The teacher: "Are you sleeping?" " No," he answered, and opened wide his eyes, and gazed at his painting. The colors stood out, and the composition heightened; he was excited and proud of what he saw.
A new understanding came to him: erasing and correcting made an unfinished painting complete. Whenever there is cancelling, erasure, change, loss, we have wounds to deal with, for I have to give up something, and I am asked to embrace a loss. How many people on the face of the earth are able to accept loss and are not afraid of wounds. This he says is the way of love.
He concludes the article with the first pages of the Bible. God made Adam and said it was not good to be alone; he needed a helpmate. A great sleep overtook Adam, and a rib was taken and God gave it flesh; she became his helpmate. Adam had to lose part of himself to gain love. Love is not given without cost is the message of the article. A masterpiece is made with deletion, modification, loss, abandonment; total love also requires loss, abandonment, death, the process of being scarred, and time, to come out of the dark tunnel.