Aunty Nellie was my mum’s aunt. Nellie lived in Southport where she had been evacuated during the Second World War. It was there that they remained after the war had wreaked its chaos and happier times returned. When I knew her, Nellie was a feisty, elderly lady, full of energy, opinions and home-spun wisdom.
When I was very small, I was, apparently, quite cute and Nellie would say to me: ‘Your face will make you your fortune. You’re a masterpiece.’ Whenever I think of Aunty Nellie, I have a warm feeling in the base of my tummy because she spoke truth into a small, vulnerable boy’s life, a truth that I have now come to know is an eternal reality. Every human person who has ever lived is God’s masterpiece; but, more than that, is always becoming God’s masterpiece, as God moulds and forms us throughout our lives.
I have been lucky enough in my lifetime to see many so-called masterpieces. I have marvelled at Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son, been filled with wonder at the Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of David. Real masterpieces point us beyond ourselves. They help you to move into the arena of the numinous, which means they transport you into a deeper sphere of life. They point you towards the divine because of their spiritual quality.
Every human person is God’s masterpiece. We are individual works of art. How often is our breath taken away by the wonder of humanity? Where do we find ourselves transported into an awareness of the divine when we look at our brothers and sisters? I am sure, for many of us, that is not our experience and yet we really are God’s masterpiece, God’s work of art if the Scriptures are to be believed.
Some of the work I do is in the area of spiritual accompaniment. So I know that for some people it can be a long journey to a place of true acceptance of our worth in God’s eyes. For most of us, it takes a lifetime of facing ourselves and journeying within to realise that we are God’s work of art.
Silence is key to this knowledge because silence encourages us to begin the process of facing ourselves and the ways in which our lives are shielded from the truth of God’s presence. Silence also helps us to begin to let go of some realities that stop us knowing that we are God’s work of art. These things are hard to deal with. So we give up being silent before God, missing the gift of discovering that we are beloved works of art – God’s masterpiece.