Despondency… Or delight?


I didn’t notice the heart until I started drawing.

Once again the free day at Colorado College Fine Arts Center rolled around and as I entered I prayed, “Lord, where would you have me focus today?”  For variety I decided to enter the opposite way and as I turned the third corner this piece of pottery arrested my attention.

A strong man, muscles well developed, in a fetal position, looking inward, looking down, draped around the opening of a pot.  An opening completely black.  The title:  Despondency.

“Did you know the average patron only spends 3seconds looking at each piece?”

Small wonder I drew a bit of attention as I camped out in front of this piece for two hours!

The docent explained “Colorado use to be the place to come if you had tuberculosis.  People flocked here seeking to get well.  And many of them did.  But not Artus Van Briggle.  He watched as all around him people were restored to health but he never was.  This was one of his last pieces.”

i only wish I could draw well enough to capture the depth of emotion and meaning communicated in this.

That night before bed I read in Bob Goff’s book Love Does the story of Don Valencia.

Bob writes,

“I had a friend named Don Valencia and I miss him.  Don Valencia was another one of those secretly incredible guys.  He was about my age and full of life when we met.  He loved to backpack and race cars and climb mountains, and he’d tell stories about sleeping high above the tree line or racing his car for a grueling 24 hours nonstop just to see if he could do it.  while I’m not a mountain climber and I don’t race cars, the more climbing and racing stories Don told me, the more courageous I felt about whatever I was facing…

During his brave fight with cancer, Don continued living in a spirit of risk and adventure.  it was plain that he was never afraid to die, and he began to chronicle his journey.  I’d read his letters and posts along with many other people, and his spirit of love and hope and anticipation was inexplicable.  he said he felt like he was dancing on the edge of heaven-but he wasn’t scared.  He was that delighted about the opportunity to live even one more day, to take one more breath, to learn one more thing about the character of God.  He wanted to move from dancing on the edge of heaven to being in heaven.

Don lamented to be sure, that when he stepped into heaven he would be leaving his wife and two sons behind for a time.  He fought the disease for them and asked God to let him stick around to make as many memories as possible with the people he loved the most.  each time Don wrote a letter or post, he’d end with these words:  “God is good, all the time.  God is good.”  It wasn’t just something he was telling himself, hoping it was true.  It was something he knew for certain, and he was hoping we’d know too as he stood at the edge of heaven.  It was like he was peeking through a knot hole in the fence at the face of God and telling us what he saw on the other side.  When Don spoke, you knew without a doubt God was good.  And with every letter, it was as if Don somehow picked the lock again and swung the vault door open so we could all look inside at the treasure.

Don hiked his last miles valiantly, beautifully, knowing that death was just a doorway to something better, something we only see traces of in this life”. (P. 168-169)

what a contrast, eh?!

On Saturday, during my quiet time, I camped out in Colossians 3:1 and I thought, “that’s it!  That’s the difference between these two men! Don Valencia set his mind on things above and hiked his last miles valiantly and beautifully.  Artus Van Briggle focused inward and was despondent.

that’s not just true when facing death!

“In this world you will have trouble.”  Jesus said and I find if I focus inward, on myself, on my circumstances I can become despondent! But if I set my mind on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God what a difference it makes – instead of a black heart I get a full heart, full of love, peace, even joy.

despondency or delight? It’s not determined by circumstances… but where I’m looking!