Monday, March 17, 2008

Renoir Quote

The pain passes but the beauty remains.

Pierre Auguste Renoir said this. Toward the end of his life, Renoir's aged, arthritic fingers curled stiffly inward. Emaciation caused such tenderness of skin that a paintbrush handle would bruise him. To pursue his passion, however, he found a way to paint. After his helpers carried him to where he would be painting each day, they placed a linen cloth in the hollow of his hand so that his twisted fingers could grip the brush. This was the context for "The pain passes but the beauty remains."

This quote tends to remind me of legacies. Because Renoir persevered through his pain to create paintings, we can enjoy that beauty today. On a less famous but no less important level, Renoir's quote applies to the grandma who grieved the loss of all her friends, her only son, and her mobility and eyesight toward her own end, but who all the while bestowed upon her grandchildren countless gifts of time and attention that will forever whisper to them: "You are much loved." Or to every sacrifice made by every mom and every dad to build their children's character and provide them learning opportunities.

Renoir's observation also encourages me in daily difficulties (which can be thought of as legacies in the making), such as a tough confrontation that risks my being disliked in order to communicate love or truth. I can trust that a sacrifice made with a right motive will bring good in the long run, even if expressing an unpopular perspective hurts in the short run.

There are lots of kinds of beauty. Creating it often involves pain. One fair and insightful question that can be asked of everyone is: What do you do with your pain? May the answer often be: Create beauty.