I’ve been having discussions and including discussions about the power and purpose of art in my novels, so when I came across this documentary about a Victorian artist, Lilias Trotter, who chose to eschew fame for obscurity in order to serve women in grave need, I was intrigued. I bought tickets to see the screening in Cherry Creek, Denver with my daughter this Thursday. However, since I was ill, I called and told her she should go with someone else. She said she might just take her seven-year-old homeschooled (basically miraculous in every way) daughter. I said, “Perfect,” because she loves art, spends most of her waking hours doing it, and has decided to be a professional artist, because being a princess isn’t realistic.
Then my daughter told me this child came home from a group program she attends and said she and her friend told a little boy there about God. She said he didn’t know or believe in God at all. So her mom asked how she did that, and her little girl said, “I drew him pictures of God and Jesus on the cross and all the miracles. And he went home to ask his parents to take him to church.”
As it turns out, I was able to see the screening at the same time as my daughter and granddaughter in another location. It was lovely and inspiring, and I thought maybe a little beyond a barely seven-year-old’s comprehension level. Not so. When I asked our little girl what she thought of the documentary, she said it reminded her of the poem: “To see the world in a grain of sand and Heaven in a wildflower.” I thought she might enjoy the animations of the watercolors, but she was quoting William Blake.
Then my daughter filled me in on the insight her child shared during the drive home. “So Lilias could have pitied the people she was helping because she was of a higher station than them. But it seems like she didn’t pity them, she had true sympathy for them. And that was really possible because she put herself down at their level and didn’t stay above them.”
What an image of Christ, right? How little credit we sometimes give the young when their pure hearts are so open to the truths we complicate. What joy to see not only a mind that grasps beauty and goodness, but lives with such a sense of wonder, and the desire to share faith and wisdom.