A budding artist was sitting in a park with his sketching pad and pencil. He noticed a chubby, cute looking boy playing with his Pokemons on the grass. His mother lay down on a sheet near him. The artist found the boy’s face very innocent and inspiring. He started sketching a portrait of the child. Some time later he finished his work and walked up to the child. He showed him the sketch and mischievously said, “Do you know this child?” The child looked at it in amazement and asked, “Are you a magician?” The artist said, “No, I’m an artist. Would you like to keep this picture of yourself?” The child was thrilled, “May I keep it? Oh! Thank you so much. I will always cherish it. It’s such a wonderful gift.” The child’s mother too joined her son in thanking the artist.
The artist studied art and specialized in portrait painting. He painted people from different cultures and religions. He had sketched the faces of beggars, royalty, policemen, housewives, models, golfers etc. He was able to draw the likeness of a Tibetan face or a European one or even a beautiful Grecian Goddess.
He became an accomplished and well known artist. He now charged heavily for his work. Ordinary people could not afford to buy his work. A friend of his was a police officer in charge of a Prison just on the outskirts of the city. One day he was crossing that way and decided to visit his friend at the prison. While he was sitting with his friend, sipping hot coffee and munching roasted peanuts, he said, “I have never sketched the face of a convict. May I see some of your inmates? Perhaps I would find an interesting subject to draw!” “Sure”, said the jailor.
Together they went into the jail compound where a number of convicts were working. One of them was sitting under a tree, day dreaming. The artist said, “That one looks very pensive. Can I sit here and watch him. Can I sketch his face?” The jailor shrugged his shoulders and said, “If it pleases you, go ahead.”
The artist fished out his pad from his coat pocket and started working deftly. He looked at the convict again and again during the time he continued to draw. All of a sudden, when he looked up, he found that the man was not there. Instead he was standing just next to the artist and watching his work intently. The artist looked at him in surprise and said, “Oh! I was just making a picture of you, do you mind?”
“You couldn’t do it second time without my coming to know, sir.” “What do you mean?” asked the artist in surprise. Slowly the convict drew out an old sheet of paper from his pocket. It was carefully taped in three places. It was folded neatly but it was absolutely worn out. It had a sketch of a child on it. “Do you know this child?” asked the convict. After a minute of silence, the artist said, “That is surely my work, but how is it with you? Who are you?” The convict smiled sadly and pointed to the ragged picture saying, “That’s me. That’s when I was innocent… But that’s not what I am today. Today I am what you have portrayed…. A convict….. I got into bad company. I became a forger. I was caught with a forged cheque book that I stole from my boss’s drawer. I am serving a sentence now in jail. My mother died when I was ten. My father took to alcohol. I had no one to teach me the right way to live. I wish I could get my innocence back …” He voiced trailed away into a tempest of tears. The artist was overwhelmed. He said, “My friend, I’ll try my best to help you, after your term is over. There is a home in my heart for you. I’ll be your father. I shall wait for you.”
So, it is with many of us. The worldly ways and tactics leach the innocence out of us. God made us like angels. But the wicked world makes devils out of us. If only we stay attached to the heavenly father, can we hope to retain a pure heart! Then we do not have to be God fearing. It’s enough to be just God-Loving. When a drop of water falls into a lake, it loses its identity; when it sits on top of a lotus leaf it sparkles like a pearl. The drop is same but company matters.