Chaplain’s Corner: Vol XIII

“God the Artist”

Around the mid-1800’s at a Scottish seaside inn, there was an accident.

A serving maid was carrying a pot of tea past a table of fisherman just as one of the men gestured enthusiastically to show the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. He snagged the teapot and down it went splashing the tea into a whitewashed wall. Even after earnest cleanup efforts, a large and irregular brown spot remained. The innkeeper fumed. “That stain will never come out. I’ll have to re-paint the wall.”

“Perhaps not,” said the stranger sitting at a nearby table. “Let me work with the stain. “If you like what I do, you won’t have to re-paint.”

The stranger produced pencils, brushes, pigments, and linseed oil. He sketched lines and added dabs of color. A picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea became a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers. At the bottom of the picture he scrawled his name, paid for his meal, and walked away. The innkeeper examined the wall. The signature read, “E.H. Landseer.”

Edwin H. Landseer was the most celebrated wildlife painter of Britain’s Victorian Era. Several like stags hang in London museums. He also sculpted the four giant lions that dominate the city’s famous Trafalgar Square. With a few strokes, Landseer transformed an accident at an ordinary inn into its centerpiece. But that’s nothing.

God, the Artist, is able to transform our most forgettable moments: the relational disaster, the cruel remark, the mind-boggling lapse in judgment into things that reflect his glory. And when we go back and re-visit the mistakes of our past, we often see something we had never seen before—-Hope.


Ron Naylor, Chaplain