I'm walking along 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica, California, watching the street performers and the dogs on leashes with designer dog collars being carried by their Prada encrusted owner's arms and suddenly I come across a guy sitting in a wheelchair, surrounded by a semi-circle of baskets on the floor, each holding different things...postcards, a basket with some scrunched up dollar bills from people who could spare some change for a donation...
Everyone seemed to walk past him without giving him a second look ; but I was intrigued. I walked towards him and saw that he had a framed biography/story on the floor and so I picked it up to read and here's what it said :
Gille Legacy was born in Bathurst, NB, Canada.
He was the sixth of eleven children. Afflicted with
cerebral palsy since birth (his doctors performed
last rites at that time), Gille has no use of his
arms or legs.
What he does have is an incredibly talented nose.
When he was eight years old, Gille noticed some
paints and a coloring book a sister had left
open in his room. He scooted over to
the paints and started to dab his nose into
the various colors and onto the paper.
To his delight, he soon realized there
was red paint on his nose, and a
painting of a bird in the coloring book.
The artist inside Gille had emerged!
For over forty years, Gille has created beautiful
impressionistic paintings using the tip of that
very talented nose. He has painted with oils, acrylics
and water colors. He originally painted on canvas,
but the surface was too rough on his nose.
He now paints on ultra-smooth masonite surfaces
of various sizes. Smoooth.
Gille's work has gained international recognition.
He exhibited in 2004-2005 at the Heron Bay Gallery,
Shediac, Chemin du Monde (Acadie 400)
Nova Scotia, Moncton Public Library, St. John Arts Center
and the McCainGallery in Florenceville, Canada.
Gille was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award in
January, 2005, Rotary's highest honor, for his work
with school children.
Gille has also written and published four books
of poetry and short stories. They are all typed
on his computer. With his nose.
In mid-2005, Gille moved to Santa Monica with
his Muse and soon-to-be wife, Sandi. They established
the "Nose Boutique Gallery." It is open to visitors who
make advance reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org
Gille also demonstrates his nose painting skills and exhibits
his work on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
Contact Gille at his email address for the dates and times
of his appearances.
Gille and Sandi have given motivational presentations to
various groups and organizations, including schools in
Canada, and most recently, at the Coachella Valley
Rescue Mission in Indio, California
A great deal of artwork is made by hand.
Few are made by nose."
I almost couldn't contain my tears upon reading it. Here was a guy, bound to a wheelchair, neck and body twisting and turning somewhat uncontrollably, suffering from cerebral palsy, missing the lower half of his body; and instead of wallowing in self-pity or perhaps not having a sense of purpose, he taught himself to use his NOSE to paint.
I looked through the paintings he had on his postcards in the baskets...paintings of angels looking to a horizon of mountains, coloured skies, rolling waterfalls. There was so much beauty and hope in his artwork. So much joy in nature.
Here is a man, who most of society would look on without much care, perhaps even feel sorry for, and here he is, putting his heart and soul into a work of beauty. I guess it just shows that God works in marvellous ways; that all life is precious and filled with much potential for beauty.
I sifted through the basket of postcards to find the one that struck me the most.
I showed him what I had chosen and told him it was lovely and asked him if I was right in guessing that it was an image of an angel that he had drawn. His eyes were filled with delight as he grunted something that sounded like a 'Yes!' and he nodded his head with a slight turn of his head.
It was also lovely to meet his fiancee Sandy. Takes a special woman to recognise the lovely man within that gnarled body.
I think that meeting Gille was extra special also for a very important reason. Earlier in the week, I was reflecting on how each person shows us a facet of God; each person is a clue to discovering His face...the different parts that make up His face.
So I was keeping that reflection in mind. It was almost a 'Where's Waldo' game, except that this time it was more like "Where's God?" in this? "where is He?"
So I was keeping my eyes open, as I am still trying to do, keeping in mind that every person is a handiwork of God, every person can show me a little something about Him, can teach me a bit more about understanding God...that each person was created in the image and likeness of Him and hence getting to know each person better, will help me to see His face clearer, by seeing His face in each one of us.
It is like fitting the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. The more pieces I have that I can piece together, the clearer the entire picture becomes; hence the clearer His face will be.
So anyway, I don't think it was a coincidence that Gille was there on the promenade that day. I believe He must have had a hand in leading me to behold His face in Gille...and what a lovely face he has.Man Who Paints
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