The following is from Music and the Spoken Word given last Sunday:
Have you ever seen a painting by the artist Renoir—in a museum, perhaps, or in a book of impressionist art? We marvel at the beauty he captured, the sudden burst of color in a portrait, the serenity of a French meadow scene.
But as famous as Renoir is, few people realize that he painted much of his work in excruciating pain. Renoir was so crippled with rheumatoid arthritis that he had to sleep with a wire contraption that kept his sheets from touching his body. His deformed hands had to be wrapped with gauze; otherwise his fingernails would grow into his flesh. He couldn’t even pick up a paintbrush. And yet he would sit before a canvas in his wheelchair, have someone wedge a brush between his claw-like fingers, and paint visions of joy and delight.
It’s easy to see why Renoir’s illness is not well known, because not a shred of bitterness or despair appears in his work. Renoir was the model of a cheerful attitude, saying, "The pain passes, . . . but the beauty remains,”1 and "One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.”2
On rare occasions we meet someone like this—a person who is in great personal pain but somehow manages to be joyful, even vibrant. We stand in awe of such people; they refuse to focus attention on themselves but instead inspire us to rise above our own sufferings and create beauty for those around us.
The next time someone asks, "Have you ever seen a Renoir?” you might think of a beautiful painting, but you might also think of the Renoirs you know—the everyday people who teach us, by their remarkable example, how to forget our own problems and focus on what we can do to bring joy to others. (End quote)
I want to be a Renoir.... Yeah. Just think I came up with a New Year's Resolution.