Weekly Devotional

July 25, 2018

by Tandy Wood


If you missed last weeks devotional or want to re-read one from the past go to the Devotional Archives page.


Erin’s comments printed in the SACC Weekly Connection last week related to the July 15th scripture and posed a provocative challenge. “Look around your house. Try and locate items that you’ve inherited. But I bet, for each of those articles you can locate in your life, you could tell a much larger story about the person who gifted it to you….and what they really left behind.”

There are indeed numerous items around my home that I have inherited. A lovely old desk from my maternal grandmother, miscellaneous antique glass, silver, oil paintings, sculpted art, and a fabulous 7 foot grandfather clock built in Austria and transported to the United States in 1885 when my great grandfather moved from Vienna to America. As I continued to look around and think about what had been passed on to me, I realized that the item that probably meant the MOST to me was no longer in my house. It had hung in my kitchen for 47 years until I decided to pass it back to its original owner’s home where it could be appreciated by many more than just myself, family and friends.

My grandmother, Myrtle Craig (Nana), amazing in so many ways, originally owned it after it was given to her by its artist, Thomas Hart Benton. It’s a pen and ink drawing that “Tommy” (as she called him) had given to her when they were students together at the Chicago Art Institute in 1907.

Tommy and Myrtle were friends, he from Neosho, MO and she from Carthage, MO, and they were in the same drawing class at the Institute. When I was up in Nana’s attic many, many years ago browsing through a stack of original artwork that Nana herself had done, I came across an ink drawing of a seated Native American woman and it was signed “T H Benton”. I realized whose work it was as I had been an admirer of his art--- but this looked very different from his later paintings and drawings. I asked Nana if she intended to hang it since Benton had become so famous and she replied, with a smile, “Oh no, Honey. He’s done lots of things since then that are SO much better. You are welcome to have it if you want.” And so I was given what turned out to be the earliest existing drawing by Thomas Hart Benton.

Although I miss seeing the ink drawing every day when I go into the kitchen, I love to go visit it at the Benton home in the old Valentine district of Kansas City, MO. The drawing is where it should be…. hanging in the living room of “Tom’s” home at 3616 Belleview which is now an important element in the Missouri State Park known as the “ Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site.”

When the staff gives tours of the house, they begin in Benton’s living room with this drawing. Just recently I got a note from one of the people who conducts the tours. This is what she said: “When I give a tour, I start with and talk about that drawing on every one of my tours because it’s such a great example of Benton’s student work and shows how much his style changed over the years. It also has a note written by Benton on an envelope authenticating the piece and indicating that it is possibly the earliest piece of his work as the others were burned up in a fire at the family home in Neosho. Many patrons are very impressed when they see it and we are so fortunate to be able to share it with them.”

As Erin said, “these keepsakes come to mean a lot to us, especially if they’ve been passed along for generations. But I bet, for each of those articles you can locate in your life, you could tell a much larger story about the person who gifted it to you---and what they really left behind.”

And that is certainly so in this case.

Thank you, Nana, for this as well as so many, many “keepsakes” your generous and loving soul has given to and shared with others.

Thank you, dear God, for the many gifts of all kinds we inherit in our lifetime. May we not only enjoy them ourselves but continue to pass them on to others for their appreciation and delight also.