Sunday, April 16, 2017


Although it has now been decades since my sister Geraldene gave me a collection of six pictures which Richard Hook and his wife, Frances, painted, while I sit at the computer it only takes a slight lifting of my head left and I am once again able to see and appreciate this thoughtful gift given so many years ago.

Geraldene had mounted them on plaques in a process I think was called deco-paging, which had its 15 minutes of fame along with stuffed geese and resin grapes among the members of the largest women’s organization in the world. Except for the three years Kathleen and I spent in Colombia presiding over the Bogota North Mission, they have always adorned a prominent position on the walls of the various offices I have occupied during my career and now in my retirement years.

Although all six plaques depict Jesus the Christ, the Savior of mankind, they each fill me with different emotions and sensitivities. His universal-ness is magnified as one inspects the paintings more closely and notices that the faces of the Savior are different in each picture. I have always thought this was an excellent way of depicting that indeed He is every man and every woman and there is no one left unrepresented in His life and mission.

On this Easter Sunday, I would like to take a few minutes to describe these paintings and the feelings I have derived through the years while sitting and pondering at various desks in a variety of chairs. Over the years they have been mounted on walls in a variety of designs and combinations. Currently, Kathleen has arranged them all on one row above the window in our home office.

The first picture, starting on my left, is a frontal bust of the Savior with tousled hair and a pleasant beard. Looking at this picture I get the sense that He is full of excitement for life and all of its infinite possibilities. I see joy in His eyes as I envision Him looking forward positively toward the experiences of mortality. I feel energy emanating from His countenance, which floods me with an assurance that all things are possible for those who walk upon His paths of righteousness.

Moving to the right, in the second picture, we see the Savior gently conversing with four young children, who I would guess to be three or four years old. He is cradling one of the children around the neck and under the chin with His mighty and great hands. It is not difficult even with a short glance to be struck with the tenderness and compassion which was a hallmark of His mission then, is now and will be forever. I am left without doubt that He is indeed the Savior of even the least of us. I am enlightened with the understanding that we are called to minister in all of our stewardships with that same tenderness and compassion.

In the third picture, Jesus the Christ is grasping His forehead in an attitude of prayer. Much of His face is eclipsed by His hands, but there never has been a doubt in my mind that this was meant to be a depiction of the Savior. One quickly understands the prophesy pronounced, that every knee would bow and every tongue would confess, even included the Son of God. A simple picture with such a profound reminder that if He must submit Himself to prayer, then certainly all of Heavenly Father’s children, likewise, need to be ever faithful in seeking guidance and giving gratitude through prayer!!

In the fourth picture, we once again see the Savior surrounded by a large group of children, this time they seem to range in ages between seven to ten years. The Savior has His arm around the shoulder of one young lad and a young miss is leaning upon the shoulder of the seated Lord. I guess it is because this picture shows a group of children slightly older than those depicted in the second picture that I am often struck with the thought that in the sight of God we are all children in various stages of progression. I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I envision Him patiently lifting and sustaining us all; regardless of what decade of our apprenticeship we might currently be passing through. My attention is also drawn to the attentive attitude of all the children in the picture and I am renewed to a degree in my commitment to Him. I come to understand that my commission is to love my brothers and sisters regardless of what degree of progress they are currently in or in which field they have been planted.

The next to last picture is another bust of the Savior, who in this one is looking slightly over His left shoulder. In this picture His hair is combed nicely and His beard evenly trimmed. The Master’s eyes are looking afar, as if being focused on a home far away beyond the range of mortal sight. His eyes fill me with the sense of homesickness I experienced on my first night of my first scout camp, and I think of the home and Parents I left to come to earth and a twinge of scout camp loneliness creeps into my soul. I am reminded that we must take time to dismiss our mortal short sightedness and focus on eternal realities if we are going to return to live with Them again.

The sixth and last picture shows the Savior in a pastoral scene. He is the Good Shephard leading His sheep to green pastures and away from perilous canyons. He has a previously lost lamb cradled around His neck upon His shoulders. His face depicts the glee of finding one that was lost, but now is found. Gratefulness fills the heart of this lowly lamb as I recognize the need for the protective guidance and protection which can only come from the Good Shepherd. I am further struck with overwhelming appreciation because I know that no matter how far I might stray He will always be there to lift my burdens when I feel faint and do all in His power to bring me safely home.

I don't have a picture of any of the traditional pictures of the Trial, Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Savior on my wall, but in a very real way, every day as I glance at those six pictures, I am filled with a vibrant reminder that all He was and all He did would have been for naught if He had not completed the work His Father sent Him to do.

I suppose over the decades, hundreds of hours have been spent pondering while looking at those pictures, which were a gift from my loving sister who has now returned home and no longer feels the pangs of being a stranger in a strange land.

I know they have helped me gain a greater understanding of the meaning of life.

Many days of stress have been eased as I’ve been able to sit and think of them during a few minutes of quite meditation.

I have thought several times, if these earthly attempts at depicting His character and countenance have worked such marvelous wonders in my life, what would be the result of being able to enjoy His presence.

I have come to believe with all my heart, that whatever effort it might take on one’s part to be able to have the privilege of such an audience, the price could never be too great.

I know He has paid the uttermost farthing, and that all He asks is that I cast in my mite.



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