Behind The Art - Ask:


On a winter night many years ago, I was returning from an Arts and Crafts show in Ohio. It was very cold. The heater in the van wasn’t working, but the cassette player was. I listened to Jessye Norman singing Richard Strauss. Glorious as the music was - The Four Last Songs, as I recall - I eventually grew too weary to drive. I pulled into a rest stop and, bundling up in a watch cap and an old pea jacket I kept in the van, I slept. But not for long; the cold woke me up. I got back on the road. Jessye sang for me again. The warmth of her voice contrasted, not only with the cold, but with a strange sense of desolation I had begun to feel - the result, I suppose, of still being so far from home, my exhaustion, and - odd as it sounds - the depressingly scruffy state of the pea jacket (“I’ve got to get this thing to the cleaners,” I told myself).

I probably made seventy-five miles before my head began to nod again. I pulled into another rest stop, reluctantly turning off the music, my bulwark against the cold night. This time I dreamt. It was cold in the dream, too. I was on a dark, narrow cobblestone street. Each door I passed was closed, each window shuttered. Then I came to a brightly lit window. I looked in. There was a long table set for a meal with candles and crystal and fine linen. A fireplace blazed nearby. Graceful men and women, all dressed in long white garments, conversed in groups and moved about the room. One of the men saw me at the window. He came, opened the door, and with a voice of surpassing kindness, invited me in. I felt totally abashed. “No, I couldn’t,” I said. Somehow, I was still wearing the wretched pea jacket. “You people are clean and fine and beautiful, and look at me. I’m a mess. I’m dirty and tired. I’ve been on the road.” It’s all right,” the man reassured me. “We have clothing for you. You can bathe, then you can rest if you feel like it. Actually, we’ve been waiting for you.”

Sometimes when we’re knocking, we don’t even know it. But God does, and He is generous and faithful.