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The Artist’s Garden

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Editor’s Note: FMS’ Communications Associate Emily Putzke reflects on the ways God invites us to become co-creators of beauty with Him.

The Artist’s Garden by Camille Pissarro

It was a drizzly October morning as I sauntered up the National Gallery of Art’s copious steps. DC Service Corps was given the day to explore the galleries, reflect, and recharge as part of our fall retreat. I ducked into the Impressionists gallery, my favorite section, and found myself among many young children and parents who, unbeknownst to them, revealed something intrinsically good and true about God’s heart to me that day.

I came across moms sitting on the polished hardwood floors with their small ones, sketchbooks on laps and pencils in hand as they gazed upward, ready to try their hands at recreating masterful works of art. A few moments later, I listened as a father explained impressionism to his two young daughters. “Up close,” he said, “it looks like blurry dots. But when you take a step back, you can see the entire picture.”

As I continued to the next room in the gallery, another father and his daughter sat on a couch in front of a painting. He draped one arm behind her, and I heard his gentle encouragement as she sketched her own rendition of a Mary Cassatt work. He pointed out the beauty of the painting to her, the light and colors, helping form her vision to see goodness as she set out to create it herself.

I imagine God does the same thing, wrapping his arm around us and inviting us to gaze on the goodness and beauty woven into this earth He’s given us. He gently and patiently sits with us in our efforts as we become co-creators of beauty with Him, whether that’s through painting, writing, cooking, gardening, lighting a candle, being present to someone, or a plethora of ways we are invited to help usher beauty into our world. As He sits with us, he reveals the meaningful nature of those small dots of life, how the light and shadows interconnect to create a wondrous piece of art. 

As I left the art gallery that day, I felt a renewed sense of the importance of being a co-creator of beauty; not as a master artist, but with the humble gifts and moments I have. Like the mothers and children sitting on the floor gazing up at artwork, let us always look up. Let us gaze upon beauty and then, with our Father beside us, enter into the sacred and Holy work of co-creation. 

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Emily Putzke is a native of Western New York and graduated from SUNY Empire State College with her BA in History. With a background in writing and editing for historical non-profits, she is looking forward to gaining experience working for a Catholic non-profit while cultivating new skills as the FMS communications associate. Emily is excited to grow deeper in her Catholic faith and Franciscan spirituality while serving in DC with the FMS community.