Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sentimental Sunday: More Than An Old Man Praying



I've decided to write this weeks' Sentimental Sunday post about the painting pictured above. For as long as I can remember this painting has been hanging over the dinning room table in my parents house. Recently, I was flipping through an old photo album and my eyes kept landing on this picture. The houses had changes and so had the wallpaper, but the painting always remained.

I had always found comfort in the painting of the old man with his head bent in prayer over a loaf of bread and bowl of soup, his bible nearby. I always felt that this painting was a nod to our Christian faith and a gentle reminder that we all need breaks from life when we can slow down and take time to pray.

As I began to write this post I started to wonder exactly how long that painting had been there? Where had my parents bought it? And what prompted them to move it from house to house and hang it, time and time again?

The answers I received were not what I had expected. In all honestly, I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe that they had purchased it at a garage sale, or that it came with one of their houses, something... lame. I certainly didn't expect to hear my father get so choked-up while telling the story, that he had to hand the telephone to my mother so she could finish the story for him.

The story begins with my father's Uncle Peck, the man who has never failed to bring a smile to my face. Uncle Peck and his wife Mary had a copy of this painting hanging in their house for several years. On one of his visits to their house, my father commented on how much he like the painting. It wasn't mentioned again and they all went on with their lives.

A few years later my parents were about to be married and were trying to make due with the struggles that they had been dealt.  My dad's Aunt Mary had purchased a blender for their wedding gift. Uncle Peck learned of this and told her that a blender wasn't a suitable gift for his favorite nephew. I'm sure Aunt Mary laughed at him when he said this, but she went out and found a copy of that painting that my father had always admired. My parents ended up receiving both the blender and painting as wedding gifts. The blender is long-gone, but that painting is still hanging there. It was even one of the few possessions my parents were able to salvage when our house burnt down all those years ago.

After listening to my parents share their memories today, I know this painting wasn't just any wedding gift. It was a gift from the two people who guided my father into the man he is today. They were the people who gladly labored in the tobacco field with my parents when other family members wouldn't. Peck was the man who taught my dad to hunt. And dear Mary, God rest her soul, was the woman who, I think, taught my father to love.

I now know that when my parents look at that painting, they see more than just the old man, they remember the joys that Peck and Mary brought into their lives. A reminder to them that Mary is watching over them in Heaven. And today I learned that this painting isn't just hanging there, it is a symbol of love and faith and my parents choose to display it for all to see.

16 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful post, Sara Beth. I can feel all of the emotion in it. I know you will make sure that painting stays in your family for years to come.

    Renate

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  2. What a great family treasure - thank you for sharing this story.

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  3. What a beautiful story; one that turns a simple painting into a true family treasure.

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  4. Well done Sara! What a beautiful post. My grandparents had the same photo hanging above their dining table for many years. I have no idea of it's meaning to them or what happened to the print. You are very lucky!
    ~Regina

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  5. For what it's worth, here's some history on the original photo and subsequent painting:

    Eric Enstrom photograph of Charles Wilden taken in the early 1900's. Sometime later, Enstrom's daughter, Rhoda Nyberg, made copies of the original photograph in oil paint.

    http://www.gracebyenstrom.com

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  6. What a wonderful story. The painting has always been a favorite of mine, but how much deeper a meaning it has to you! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! A special thank you shout-out to Regina for posting the link to the painting's story! I've shared it with my family. :D

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  8. Hi Sara,

    really, a great story!

    regards Timo!

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  9. "Our lives are not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away", Author Unknown.

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  10. What a sweet story! Excellent post!

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  11. hi i to have seen this picture for many years, my grandparents had it and now there gone. i recently moved back home and to my surprise i saw the same pic and all my aunts home's. i felt the need to go out and look for it for quite some time i went to yard sales and never found it, i recently visited my aunt and talked to her about it, she sent me to viva life a christian book store down town mcallen tx. and sure enough they had it there :) i went ahead and purchased both the old man and the old lady im very glad that i have them now im my dinning room and i can truly say they are my pround and joy. my kids ask if those are my grandparents, i say no, and go about explaining why it means alot to me.

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  12. I just found a copy of this today at an estate sale. I happened to notice it on the wall and it seemed to have such deep meaning. I had to purchase for my dining room.

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  13. Wow my heart stopped as I read this blog. I just receieved this picture from my dad. I told him this was one thing I wanted after my grandmother passed away. She & my grandfather had it in their small dining room in Fullerton,CA. I would look at it as a child. It is a reminder of my grandparents love for their family and for God. Thanks for sharing-it is amazing that a picture could mean so much more than what is seen.

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  14. I saw this picture hanging in my cousin and friend's room back in Ethiopia we were just in our early 20ies. Even then, when I saw it for the first time, I was so quiet that I felt like I was talking to the 'Heavens'.
    It is was hard to find another copy then, so that I couldn't hang it above my study. Now in my early 30s - I decided not to own it but make it a gift to my friends.
    Great story and thanks for sharing!

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