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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: Gray Matters
By terri tiffany


“Are you ever going to get rid of that, Mom?” I turned in disgust from the sculpture my mother deemed Art. Only a three year old would dare call it anything but garbage. But for thirty plus years, the gray clump of clay graced the corner of her entrance room for anyone to see. Why did I ever bring it home?

With only two years of high school left, I was distraught when the guidance counselor informed me I lacked an Art credit. “Pick up something so you can graduate next year.” In a panic, I selected pottery thinking it wouldn’t hurt to have a few more bowls around the house.

“You will be designing a lifelike figure.” My jaw dropped. I had to mold a statue of a person from clay? I was still licking my wounds from a pot that wouldn’t quite hold water.

“I’ll help you.” A boy I’d known only slightly moved his chair next to mine. He loved art and it showed in his projects. It also helped that he was a wrestler and knew about muscles. He convinced me to make a boxer – complete with gloves and a body like Rocky Balboa. There was only one problem. Our athlete was top heavy and his legs wouldn’t hold all his weight. When we removed him from the kiln, he looked like he was ready to collapse. I thought he looked more like Popeye than Sylvester.

Unfortunately, my mother loved it. After numerous attempts to trash my C- masterpiece, I relented to leaving it in her possession when I married and moved away from home. But it mocked me when I returned for visits and I was the butt of plenty of jokes from my family. Did I need a constant reminder of my lack of talent every time I entered her home?

“Did you hear me? Are you ever going to throw it out?” I waited for her answer. Maybe this would be the time when she would decide to redecorate that corner. Joe Boxer smiled at me from his perch on a decayed stump of wood. Why wouldn’t he go down with the count? Must I forever watch him frozen at nine?

My mother reached for my work of art and moved him further out into the room. “I’m not going to get rid of him. He reminds me of you.”

“Thanks Mom.” I rolled my eyes. “Is my hair turning that gray already?”

“This boxer has a lot of faults, I agree – and he’s not perfect. He could stand a little straighter and he could have been made with a little less punch in his gloves.” She fingered his half bent knees. “But what I like most is he looks like he could drop in prayer at anytime.”

What was she talking about? Was my life out of balance? I straightened my shoulders as I searched my words. “So am I made that badly?”

My mother smiled and shook her head. “You know the scripture that talks about how God is the potter and we are the clay?”

“Yes. We studied it again last week. But I’d like to think that I don’t look like that glob.” I curled my lips. Where was she going with this? We still had to clean out her basement. After my father went to a nursing home a year ago, it was time to help her discard some useless junk around the old house.

She laughed and reached for a bag of yarn stuffed under some magazines. “Well, God didn’t make you perfect but you are the first person who offers to pray for someone when they need it. When I look at that boxer, I don’t see the misshapen muscles or the oversized gloves, I see him bending at his knees. I like to think of him as my praying boxer- just as you are my praying child.”

I stopped my dusting and glanced at old Joe. Did my mother really see me that way? I never thought she listened when I rambled on about my projects. I figured she thought my ministries were silly.

“Well…I suppose we could leave him there for a few more years – at least until the next owners.” Then Joe could claim a spot in my foyer.

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This article has been read 1071 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betty Castleberry01/25/07
Unique spin on the topic. I like that the mother saw something different (and better) than the child did. Isn't that just like a mom?
Nicely done.
Phyllis Inniss01/26/07
We often judge ourselves too harshly. However, your mom saw with eyes of love, just as Jesus sees us. You managed to express this without actually saying it.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/27/07
With the "Title", I figured I was going to be reading about "brain cells"; you know, "gray matter?" However, it was a delightful and fun read. I enjoyed the candor and the lighthearted chit chat between mother and daughter. Nice job.
Pat Guy 01/28/07
I too. thought it was going to be a 'brainy' entry! ;)

Instead it was a precious perspective of love with a touch of dry wit - very good! :) Loved the visuals.
william price01/28/07
Outstanding, unique, inspiring and very well done. I feel like an old lump of clay on somebody's door post sometimes myself. Enjoyed this very much. God bless.
Laurie Glass 01/28/07
How nice. This was so believeable as well as heartwarming. Made me smile.
Joanne Sher 01/28/07
Wonderful dialogue. I loved this sweet portrait of a mother's perspective. Aren't we just like that?
Jan Ackerson 01/29/07
What I liked most here was the interaction between this mature woman and her mother--a relationship not often depicted. They seem very real and likeable.
Donna Powers 01/29/07
Very nice! I like the description of the sculpture and it was a nice way for the mom to honor her child's unique talents. I enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing it
Valora Otis02/01/07
This is a wonderful piece. I have been on the receiving end of many of your prayers . I know that your heart was in this precious story. Oh that we could all be a lump of clay with prayer knees.