Once upon a time, in a quiet and tucked-away nook off a well-traveled road, three families built three lovely manors. They settled in together as more than neighbors… friends who shared life and watched one another’s children grow. Carried potlucks across the hedges and cheered the addition of each artistic yard ornament that celebrated home
Many years passed. Life blossomed, punctuated with joys and sorrows, until one day the stately brick went up for sale. A bittersweet leave-taking. And the neighbor to the right thought, “What if I could give my friends a pen and ink drawing, to remember?”
© Pam Depoyan
So she searched high and low for someone who might capture the home in a way that memory-stamped some of it’s tender story for the family who had recently lost a loved one there. But each place she checked seemed to wend nowhere, like one empty rabbit trail following another… Until…
“Don’t you love old photos?” my friend and I commented together as we perused a lovely garden book we came across today on a bookstore shelf, paged open to a beautiful old sepia of toddler Beatrix Potter and her brother Bertram. Beatrix and Bertram, sweet-faced, chubby-kneed, and innocent, captivating forever on paper. Even their names, like their dimpled smiles, hold dear.
I told her about some shots one of you sent in my comments the other day… from prewar England. And we shared how images like that evoke a sense of something inexplicable in us. Knowing, these now unidentified subjects captured for all time — they were real people with histories and lives and hopes and dreams, people someone once loved and knew intimately. A glimpse into personal stories we wish we could read entirely.
It’s that ethereal quality so often caught in photographs that I ask God to etch into my drawings. I want to try to preserve and reveal a bit of the owner’s story, the frontispiece illustration…just like these tender sepia bookplates of a century past.
And that’s when I told my friend about the Providential story behind the green door…and its multi-faceted Divine Appointment.
It all began with maybe my second run over to the print center that day, and I’d just dashed in – hair flying, no makeup, looking fresh out of Vogue – ahem, well, that’s if there’s a Vogue for the jeans and sweatshirt and snow-covered boot crowd, that is. Suddenly, at my elbow, a man caught my eye with his brochure of some pretty oil paintings.
“Yours?” I asked enthusiastically.
He nodded. Chatting amiably, he invited me to stop by an art show evening he and another painter were planning, asked about the items I was printing. I mentioned my upcoming work at the cafe in the next month. I didn’t get to his showing – it was out in the country and a winding night drive in blizzard weather we’d been having.
One afternoon several weeks later, I punched in my phone machine and heard an unknown man’s voice. “I don’t know if you remember me…” he began, explaining he’d been to the cafe and thought I was the person he’d met by chance … mentioned a friend he knew who was searching for a pen and ink artist for a gift she planned for her neighbor —
The guy from the print center!
Semi-desperate prayers I’d been wending heavenward again just that afternoon, standing on God’s promises for His blessing that surrounds us, echoed back like music in the round as I realized what he was proposing. Lord, somehow make your light to shine on my work there at the bookstore… bring the right buyers to see and want them…open work for me. You know my need… Please send your Divine appointments…
“– and so, if you are interested, I can put you in touch…,” his recorded voice finished.
From my first phone call with his friend J., our conversations and emails regarding her thoughts for the picture, and mine, steeped and bubbled up like a shared teabag, cup to cup.
“I’d like it to be all in classic black and white,” she told me, “except — what do you think of making just the front door green?”
This color, J. unfolded in a touching story of family and friendship, would mean everything to these neighbors who had recently lost wife and mom… for it was the mom who painted it vibrant. Other remembered touches this woman had loved in her home came volleying back and forth via email, filling me up with the story behind the piece I was to create for them. The greyhound statue (sadly beheaded one season by snowplowers!) might be a fond touch to add by the walkway! And maybe their two real dogs could be represented somehow? (Notice the two pups peeking from the lower windows by the door 🙂 ). With a few of my own (like the heart rock beneath the little tree…)
From the moment we first connected, something warmed like God at work between us. First, she casually mentioned an artist she had once purchased a pen and ink from… N.C. As naturally as if we were discussing a mutual friend, no question.
Only, I had a question. “Did you say NC?” I chirped. “Funny you should mention her, because I just sent her a card of a drawing I drew of her house – just for fun. I’ve always loved her beautiful place… I had no idea she was an artist too!”
Then, the afternoon I delivered the completed house portrait to her home, J. told me even more incidences that sent goosebumps of Holy Spirit behind the scenes appointments over me. How in her search for someone local who could do this drawing, she’d contacted the very store I’d called upon three times last fall, one of only two places where I left free samples of my art cards for their customers to take, How they’d told her they didn’t know of anyone….
“Didn’t know?” I spluttered, flabbergasted.
She laughed with me. “Yeah, crazy huh?” Then she’d called a frame shop right adjacent to the cafe where my work was. They didn’t know anyone either.
I laughed again. The people there knew me too, but I could see why they wouldn’t have thought of me off the tip of their minds. Still, funny that our paths in this had been crossing so much… As if God had been trying to get us together every which way… 🙂
“And the wildest thing of all,” J. chuckled then, “was that I’d never seen your work at the bookstore, and most likely never would have, until Scott told me to go check them out!”
Scott, the friend I just happened to run into at a print shop weeks before,
who then just happened to recognize me as that chance person,
who then just happened to call his friend, J….
at the same time I just happened to be praying for some leads…
“I’m so glad you knew Scott,” she enthused.
“We-ell, I don’t really know him,” I explained, telling her the story of our meeting, as she brought out several of his lovely paintings to show me. “It’s so amazing – and that you were searching in so many places I’d been connected with!” I declared.
Her lips pursed in a mysterious smile then as she pointed up. “Mm… Providential!”
Yep…Just another one of those eight million stories God is writing... (as I began sharing here: Cloud Cover)
Before I left, J. felt like someone I’d known… or maybe someone who seemed to know mutual friends of mine all over the place. And by her many bubbling over ideas on sharing my work with others…
All those wondering, wandering, whispering God- incidences. For me (one who loves to pen and draw stories into living pictures). For J. (one with a unique gift on her heart). For those she is gifting (to hold an heirloom moment of their lives) .
His eye on the sparrows. To the Nth detail in each… one… of our lives…
Leaving that first of spring blossom wonder misting my heart with prayer…hope…knowing He is always, always writing the divine into the ordinary of our days. And leaving flower stars such as this story as a trail cloud of remembrance.
If today you are feeling adrift upon a sea of unknown… may this true tale encourage you to look ahoy with fresh hope — for He is sending Divine appointments, while at the same time making YOU such a blessing to another, when you least envision!
© Pam Depoyan
Pen & Ink Artwork: mine, under my copyright (please do not copy without permission. See my copyright info button on the sidebar. )