My grandson, Bishop, just graduated from high school, and to celebrate, I made him a quilt. If you’ve been following my blog, I’ve talked about my quilting before. I’ve even indicated there are some secret projects I’m working on. This was one of them.
I asked him what color he would like, and his response was that he didn’t care, as long as I “made it really bright”. He also picked out the pattern, called When Bali Met Sochi. With that in mind, I got to work, and I think the final product turned out very well indeed.
We had a graduation party for him on June 14th and, along with the gifts other people brought, I presented the completed quilt to him. As you can see from the pictures, he was quite happy with it as well.
Bishop is very artistic – in fact he is heading off to Moravian College in the fall to study art – and I think he understood the quilt is a beautiful work of art. Just before he graduated from high school, some of his artwork was entered into the school art contest, and one of his pieces, a watercolor, won “Best In Show: Watercolor”. I couldn’t be more proud of him! Receiving that award is a good boost for his confidence. He’s always been creative, creating characters and worlds and critters, so I wasn’t surprised they gave him an award. But as I stood there looking at his artwork, I had an “A ha!” moment.
I know nothing about watercolor. I’ve painted with acrylics in the past, but not watercolor. Imagine, then, how arrogant I would have to be to pull out my paints, or a pen, and start marking up his artwork. How conceited would I need to be to believe I, who knows nothing about watercolor, could tell Bishop, who has taken formal classes on the topic, what would be better, or how he should do things? It would be the height of hubris to do so. And yet, that is exactly what happens in our society every day.
Cosmetic companies preach that no matter what our friends and loved ones tell us, we’re not beautiful enough, so we need this cream, lipstick, blush, eyeliner to really be beautiful. Soda companies tell us that, despite feeling contented, we’d be more contented with a Coke or a Pepsi in our hands. And, for many years now, narratives within our society have even called into question our most basic personal traits. Over the past 35 years or so, there have been several epidemics to strike the teen population, from teen pregnancy to drug use to body mutilation to eating disorders. All of these are terrible, and not all are preventable, but many are. But the narrative of our culture makes sure teens cannot form a clear opinion of who they are. Thus many are left searching for external answers to these internal questions.
But drug use, self-harm and all of these other problems that teens face could be greatly diminished if we raised our children to believe that they have been made beautiful already, and these external and destructive practices only throw paint on God’s perfect canvass. Teenagers, of course, often aren’t fully responsible for their actions, so my criticism is directed more at society as a whole. When the only thing of value in our society is money or power, what reason do we have to encourage and support our teens? Sometimes – too often – this issue lies with the parents, but even good parents can have children who go off the rails because the overarching societal message is “You’re not good enough.”
But we are good enough. To doubt that is to doubt God himself. Yes, there will always be problems, but isn’t it clear we could make them better by raising children in an environment that celebrates who they are instead of breaking it down?
I want Bishop to be an artist: That seems to be what he was born to do. But if he decides he wants to become an accountant, then that’s fine as well. I want Bishop to be Bishop as God intended him to be, nothing more and nothing less. To wish otherwise would be to doubt my oldest, truest friend, God.