My wife was reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, and the author described the process by which artists in his time painted frescoes. As soon as the wet plaster was applied his painting began, so his work would be preserved in the finish. Leonardo refused to use this process because it meant rushing his work.
So he devised another means, and as is evidenced by the remains of one of his most celebrated works, The Last Supper, his did not prove as permanent. But his slower, painstaking work is more admired, studied and celebrated, even though less preserved.
Conversely, destruction happens quickly. The aftermath of the bombing of the monastery on whose walls The Last Supper was painted is just one vivid example. Dams have burst open washing away entire communities, flower and fauna, cultivated and natural, in mere seconds. Volcanoes, tidal waves, tornadoes, war … great destruction, short time.
Why do we think it’s different with people?
The gold of a relationship that is celebrated is forged over many years, in many fires, refined, purified, and shaped times without number. Patience, long suffering, generous forgiveness, and lavish kindness are the tools used in a marriage, a friendship, a daughter or son relationship that causes that bond to be strong and lasting.
One of my children required excessive time especially in their teen years. Gone were the days of a quick reprimand, instruction or correction. Long conversations were the norm, working hard at asking the right questions and listening carefully and to draw out the fears, desires and motivations behind their actions.
And wouldn’t you know, those conversations often happened late at night, or in the middle of a work deadline. I cognitively understood that the teen could not grasp the inconvenience their struggle was to me, after all, the conversation was not supposed to be about me, but the pressure was there and was real. I had to choose at those moments to sacrifice and love.
Do you know how many times you have to do that to make even some headway in the heart and life of a person? Finishing a work project at 2:00 am for a presentation the next day because the teen’s problem just would not be resolved in less than three hours was not unusual. Transformative love is never quick, or easy, or simple. But it’s real.
My children now have children of their own, and I enjoy watching the time and attention they give to them. Love, unlike art, does not fade. Love is eternal, as are the people, the canvas, which love transforms. Like Leonardo, take the time to paint well. You will not regret it.