Grey skies, constant rain, and bone-chilling wind! Not being able to play outside, and tired of staring out the window, Robinson began wandering endlessly around the house. Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, the thought came to him: “Why not venture into Dad’s painting studio?”
In fact, his father, whose name was Walter, an electrician by profession, painted landscapes as a hobby in his spare time. It is true that the studio was generally considered a reserved area, but Robinson had a very special plan that justified the intrusion: he was going to make a surprise painting for Dad, who was always so dedicated to his family.
He opened the door of the studio, crept in, and turned the lights on, for light an artist’s best friend. Pleased with his exciting idea and eager to reveal his artistic gifts, the boy picked up the box of paint brushes, chose his paints and decided to commit his work to a small drafting canvas, permanently mounted on an easel.
Suddenly, the neophyte painter froze as he heard a shrill cry coming from close behind him: “Old brush!”
Yes, it was the parrot in its cage in the corner, who had learned the words repeated countless times by his mother – a fastidious housekeeper – whenever she tidied up the studio. She was horrified by the unsightly old paintbrushes that her husband kept, and wished he would throw them away…
“Use an old brush? Not me!” Robinson thought. Then, peering through the transparent cover of the box, he looked for the brightest and newest brush inside; after all, he didn’t want to ruin his first work of art with a worn-out instrument. But when he was ready to take his selection, he realized that the box was locked with a little padlock. He had no choice, after all, but to make do with an ugly “old brush” that he found on the table.
The hours went by unnoticed to Robinson, as a beautiful painting of the family house took form. A real talent was beginning to manifest itself! And, of course, the artist’s signature was not forgotten.
Satisfied with the pleasant surprise he would give his father, he turned the lights off and left the studio, just in time for dinner, always lovingly prepared by his mother.
Robinson was no prophet, but he had already imagined how things would unfold, and everything went according to plan at the end of the meal. Upon discovering the painting of the family home, Dad came and hugged him and expressed his surprize and delight at seeing his son’s unmistakable aptitude for painting. “Like father, like son!” he exclaimed proudly. Mom became misty-eyed with emotion, and Walter even gave the boy formal authorization to use all the brushes, not just the old ones.
“But I think I’ll keep using the old ones, because they work”, the new painter thought to himself.
Before going to sleep, Robinson, now with total freedom to come and go from the studio, decided to stop by to say “good night” to his very first “masterpiece”. He went in, sat down in a comfortable armchair, and contemplated the portrait of the house once more. Then he began to analyse his father’s paintings, which decorated the walls, and compared them to his… It was funny, but his work did look a lot like his father’s, and almost as good, especially considering it was his first try! “If I work at it, I will easily outdo Dad in no time!” he mused.
But his conscience immediately objected to such a claim and, with a categorical “no”, he cut off that line of thought, realizing that it came from pride. Then and there, Robinson made the firm resolution to always be a respectful son to his parents, in order to live up to the name of Christian, whose duty it was to fulfil the Fourth Commandment of God’s Law.
But just then, a new scene unfolded before the boy’s eyes: the paintbrushes came to life and – strange to say, dear reader – they begin talking loudly with one another! Robinson stared in amazement as the newest brushes, coming out of the box that his father had opened, turned to the oldest brush – Walter’s favourite, incredible as it may seem. Making disparaging comments about the shabbiness of its bristles they began to laugh so loudly that they could hardly hear each other…
One new brush, long and shiny, took the lead and said to the respectable veteran of the studio: “Look here, you wasted and worn-out brush, why don’t you admit that you are no longer fit to paint? We are the ones who should have first place in this studio! This very afternoon, if that inexperienced boy had used us, his painting would have been superb!”
Calm and self-assured, the old “patriarch” replied a strong and deep voice, like a waking lion: “Now pay attention, boys! Skill comes from the hand of the artist, on whom rests a special gift of God. See the demonstration that you have before your eyes: Walter’s long experience made use of the old brush who is speaking to you, as did Robinson’s remarkable talent, despite his lack of experience. Therefore, I conclude: it is not the brush that makes the artist. If anyone wishes to object, he can come forward with his arguments!”
There was a hushed silence. The truth could not be refuted. Hanging their heads, the junior brushes retreated back into their box; quiet and solemn, the older one also settled down to rest.
The parrot knocked over its little jar of birdseed as it flew from one corner of the cage to the other, and Robinson woke up… from a dream. Without realizing it, he had drifted off to sleep in his father’s comfortable armchair. He did not jump up immediately, as an idea suddenly came to him, more important than the one that had inspired him to try his hand at painting: God is the Divine Artist, and we, His creatures, are simple paintbrushes. It matters little whether His brushes are new or worn by use, if they are of excellent or of poor quality; what really counts is the One who uses them. And if our shortcomings are many, the skill of the Sacred Painter will shine even more! In the activities of our day-to-day lives, we paint the beautiful pictures of the Most High. We only need to be compliant to his infinite skill.
That night was filled with light for Robinson, who had just learned a great lesson… From a paintbrush!
And you, my dear reader, answer me with all the honesty of your heart: in your life, are you a grateful and pliant brush in the Lord’s hands? ◊