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Work of Art

by Elizabeth Musser

I had the joy and privilege of visiting The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago. As I stepped into the museum on that surprisingly balmy October afternoon, I thought back to my first visit to National Gallery. In 1989, I flew from Columbia, South Carolina to D.C. to spend a few days with one of my dearest life-long friends, leaving behind my husband, Paul, and our one-year-old son, Andrew.

This was the first time I had been away from Andrew for more than a day, and, although I was delighted to spend time with my friend, I was also quite emotional about leaving my son. So perhaps that explains in part my reaction as I strolled through the halls of this magnificent museum.

Museum map in hand, I made my way to the rooms which housed the 17th century Dutch paintings. As I rounded the corner, I stopped in my tracks, my heart beating faster, tears filling my eyes. There she was in all her astonishing beauty, so close I could have reached out and touched her, a painting by one of my favorite Dutch painters. A painting I had studied almost a decade earlier in an art history class in college.

Now I was experiencing this painting in real time, in real life, and that simple joy made me cry.

It also inspired me to pen a poem, scribbling it down on a napkin I fished out of my purse.

Work of Art

All at once I saw you there
And it took me by surprise.
That same incandescent air
Brought fresh tears into my eyes.
Like a long-forgotten friend
Who at one time knew my heart,
You were with me once again,
A most precious work of art.

And we come to admire this work of art,
Vibrant reds, brilliant blues, subtle grays,
And we leave inspired within our hearts,
To give the artist praise.

I can still remember when
I first met you on the screen
In that musty, crowded room
Of Art History 115.
The professor’s droning voice
Lifted animated, grand
As he described your subtle shades
And the artist’s skillful hand.
Just a student, lone and tired,
Searching for which way to turn,
You left me breathless and inspired
To create and seek and learn.

And we come to admire this work of art,
Vibrant reds, brilliant blues, subtle grays,
And we leave inspired within our hearts
To give the artist praise.

We are each a work of art,
Crafted by the Master’s hand.
When His paintbrush strokes our heart,
He recreates our inner man.
So if we should someday be
One whom others come to see,
May they turn each time they leave
And give the Artist praise.

Oh, come and admire each work of art
With our vibrant and subtle shades,
And for the changes wrought within our hearts,
Turn and give the Artist praise.

Now, in October, 2017, as I once again strolled through the rooms of the museum, I thought about how my poem was prescient. When I penned it, I had never published anything, but I had a deep longing in my heart to write novels.

Twenty-plus years and twelve novels later, I prayed again the same prayer, “Lord, when people come to see me at book signings or speaking events, please may they see You through me.”

A few nights ago, I attended an art exhibition in a private home. The artist, Jill, is a dear friend of mine.  Jill and I are both from Atlanta, and have both lived in France for 30+ years. Jill’s life and art inspire me. As I mingled with the other guests, admiring Jill’s impressionist tableaux, several people stopped me. “Are you Elizabeth Musser? The Elizabeth Musser?” Shocked, I nodded, “Yes, I’m Elizabeth.”

“Well, I’ve read many of your books, and I simply love them.”

This phrase was repeated throughout the night. And once again, my poem’s haunting message whispered to me So if we should ever be one whom others come to see, may they turn each time they leave and give the Artist praise.

As writers, we have a voice, we have a story to tell, and, sometimes, we have the opportunity to meet our readers in person—whether planned or serendipitously. This acclaim can go to our heads.

Or it can go to our hearts.

May it go to our hearts, and from our hearts, may sweet words of praise to the real Artist flow.

Elizabeth Musser usually writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. But this year, she and her husband are living in the Chattanooga area, to be near their three grandkids, and Elizabeth is writing at the yellow desk where she penned her first poems and stories as a child.  Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Work of Art

  1. What a beautiful post, Elizabeth. And I can testify that you and your work indeed give the Artist praise!

  2. Pat Nichols says:

    Your poem and story touched my heart. As a new writer who recently signed my first contract for a manuscript, I find inspiration Christian writers who understand our gifts are from our Creator and meant to glorify Him. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks, dear Deb! And congrats, Pat, on your first contract!

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