Art in all its forms has always fascinated me: paintings, music, poetry, theater, etc. I guess that is why I found myself wandering through an art studio some years ago in Cade’s Cove, Tennessee. I was strolling through and enjoying painted scenes of fluffy white snow weighing down tree branches alongside rustic cabins with glowing fireplaces. Then I saw “it”; the ugliest painting ever. It was a painting of a burned out tree stump with background colors in drab grays and muted greens. I walked past the print wondering what the artist was thinking. After a short time my curiosity got the better of me. I returned for a second look. As I examined the painting more closely it vividly captured the cold, wet remains of a tree charred by a late autumn forest fire. But, what eventually was revealed was a small green sprig of new growth pushing through the lifeless bark of the stump. The title of the print finally made sense to me. It was called “Hope”. The artist had captured the triumph of hope over despair. The artist’s wife, the partner poet, wrote a poem to complement the painting. It reads:
When life seems colored in tones of gray, and the last little spark has flickered away, Thru unbroken darkness you stumble and grope; You’re still not broken, just hold onto hope.
The three that abide are faith, hope and love, So pick up that dream and give it a shove. And never cry “uncle” and never say “die”, Cause darkness is thickest as dawn draws neigh!
I love my ugly painting and poem and I have kept it in my office all these years. It has sustained me in my dark times. Whenever I have felt lost or broken I look at it and remember, “…darkness is thickest as dawn draws neigh!”
by Bob Harris- Pastoral Councilor at Cedar Creek Church