The light is from my camera flash, making it all the more interesting to me.
I found this picture at a yard sale on a beautiful Spring day in the month of May about 15 years ago. It is of course, a depiction of Mary, Mother of Jesus. I don’t know the name of the artist who painted it. I was not initially attracted to the picture, which was on the front lawn of a modest house in a modest neighborhood and propped up against an old chair. Still, because I appreciate and collect religious art and artifacts, my eyes went directly to it when they could have been drawn anywhere by all the many odds and ends that were spread out on table tops, leaning against trees, displayed on porch steps and stacked in cardboard boxes on the ground. When the young woman who was holding the yard sale noticed my attention focused on the picture, she walked over to me and told me that the picture once belonged to her aunt who was a Roman Catholic nun, and that it was her aunt’s favorite picture of Mary. I was sold. I gave her the $5.00 she was asking, tucked the heavy framed and under glass print under my arm, and began walking back to the home of my daughter who lived a few blocks away.
I had been visiting my daughter earlier in the day, and it was she who told me about the yard sale. I had only walked a few yards back toward her home when I was surprised by the appearance of my 17 year old grandson James, who, taking the picture from me said, “Here, let me carry this for you.” From that moment the picture began to mount in significance. He was my first grandchild; a tall, thin, brilliant, beautiful, and very troubled young man, and he took pleasure in showing me a shortcut. It gave me a bittersweet joy to see him carrying the Mother of Jesus down the street, through an alley, and over a wooden foot bridge that arched across a shallow creek. I felt as if I was witnessing something very unusual, very profound, very holy.
This year we lost James, on August 29. "He called me yesterday to wish me a happy birthday," said his father. His mother bought him some nice clothes; a blue shirt, gray trousers, an elegant silk necktie, blue suede shoes. "Jim always liked nice clothes," she said. The priest anointed him, and told us, "All of his sins have been forgiven. He is with Jesus now."