A Cross-Country Roadtrip & A Notebook Full Of Ideas


I’m fortunate enough to know where one of my greatest talents lies. My problem is that I don’t use it to glorify God.

As a single Catholic man who came back to the Church about six years ago, I’ve been trying to figure out just who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing. Joining CatholicMatch was an early and easy decision. I think many “reverts” probably find that if they’re going to walk the straight and narrow they’ll need a partner who’s at least aware that there is a straight and narrow.

Meeting other single Catholics was only part of the equation. Even more important was learning to live as a Catholic beyond just the smells and bells of Sunday Mass.

As far back as I can remember I have been able to draw. Now, having this talent does not necessarily mean that I’ve always loved to draw. More often than not it’s manifested itself in stream-of-consciousness doodles during meetings at work (or during class when I was in school). In fact, I’ve always found it very difficult not to cover any available piece of paper with drawings.

But when it comes time to actually produce a painting, I avoid sitting down and doing the work. For most of my life this has not bothered me; I make a good living as a designer at a magazine and I don’t need to paint to pay the bills.


A nagging

But since I’ve come back to the Catholic faith the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 has been gnawing at the back of my mind. I know I am supposed to put this talent to work for God.  I imagine that often people might not immediately know what talents have been given to them. Perhaps it might take years for them to discover. But talents we all have, and with a little reflection, and perhaps a lot of prayer, it shouldn’t be too hard for us to figure out what they are.

In order to spark my creativity I decided to take a cross-country trip this summer and visit my old stamping grounds in Tucson, Ariz. I had lived there for a few years back in the mid-90s, and my time there has since represented a sort of golden age in my mind when I reminisce about it.

It wasn’t that my life there was particularly fantastic or filled with constant thrills. I worked way too much and barely had enough money to make my expenses. Time for socializing was hard to find. But I was in my mid-20s and far away from the East Coast and everything and everyone I had known for most of my life. I was out of my element and so I was more aware of everything around me.

When I look back now even the mundane things have a bit of a halo around them. I figured a cross country drive and a week in Tucson would inspire me to do a series of paintings based on those memories.


Desert snapshots

Braving the 110+ temperatures (and the threat of wild fires) I took off for the desert and when I reached Tucson I spent much of my time driving around, snapping pictures, making on-the-spot sketches, and taking notes.

It was still pretty much as I remembered. Something about sun-baked Arizona lends a dream-like quality to the landscape whether you’re in the middle of the desert or driving downtown. I found that the hazy images in my memory were not much different than hard reality.

Sure enough, I returned to the East Coast with a notebook full of ideas. I hope that returning to my paintings will not only allow me to give something back to God, I also hope that it gives me some insight into exactly who I am as a single Catholic and how I am supposed to proceed on this path.

Painting is often a form of meditation, and with this new focus I hope it will also be a form of prayer. It’s too early to even guess at just what effect my paintings will have on my faith, much less to presume that anyone else might find any value in it, but I look forward to sharing my work.

Consider this a call to all Catholics reading this post. Find your talent, foster it, and pray for insight on how to use it. And remember, those talents aren’t really ours — they’re on loan!




Further reading


1 Comment »

  1. Lilly-668300 December 5, 2011 Reply

    I remember hearing Thomas Blackshear II, the artist who painted Forgiven, speaking about his talent. I seem to recall his testimoney regarding the difference in his work after his conversion. He talked about his ‘gift’ of creativity finally coming to its pinnacle once he discovered God, as if before he hadn’t been aware that it was a ‘gift’ specific to himself and his existence, and that it was to be used for God’s Purpose. That is to say, once we discover that what makes us unique, in his case the talent of painting, and we find our relationship with God, it is natural for our specific talents to bloom and for us to succeed at whatever we undertake in this areana, because, basically, we were made for it! Make sense? Enjoyed your article; your writing is good too:)

Post a comment