I’m a big believer in miracles. I believe that miracles are little understood also, and that I have at least one understanding of them that, I think, puts them into an entirely different light from the one they’re usually perceived to have.
I think that miracles are all around us. To such an extent that the word “miracle,” should mean something like, “really commonplace.” Furthermore, I don’t think this is at all an odd belief and, in fact that most people, if pressed, would say something like that as well.
However, the common belief about miracles is that they are also once-in-a-very-great-while types of things.
Here’s what Webster says about them:
an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
Christian Science: a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law
Note how in each of those definitions, except the third, there’s the concept of “extraordinary,” or “extremely outstanding,” or “unusual.” All meaning: rare.
Yet most of us talk routinely about the “miracle of life,” the “miracle of creation,” the “miracle of birth” … all things that are really, really, really … common. All around us, in fact, and happening all the time.
So, the concept of “miracle” appears to encompass the incomprehensibly common, as well as the astonishingly uncommon. It is this last kind of idea about miracles that I wish to ask you about today, because I wonder whether a miracle was worked through me, or whether it was merely something of just extreme mathematical improbability.
I used to love to draw and paint. Like a big dummy, I chose to start off by painting portraits. Why did that make me a dummy? Simple. Portraits are the most difficult things to draw or paint, and I chose them as my first endeavors in the art world.
Why are they so difficult? Also simple: Anyone can draw a person, and get a quite recognizable person, but it takes significantly greater artistic skill to draw or paint that person. And to get that person as a result!
I became pretty good at it, though, and some people even said that I should exhibit. Others offered me fairly large sums of money for some of my works. Still others asked me to do portraits of them, or of members of their families.
One day, a tad more than 16 years ago… I decided not to draw a person from a model, as I’d been doing before, but one from my imagination. I decided to draw Jesus. Needless to say, there are only a few highly stylized models from which to choose, so that’s why I figured I’d simply use my imagination. Good as anything else, right? After all, I knew where to put facial features, and I knew how to shade, and how to add in personalizing characteristics like dimples, crow’s feet, laugh lines and the like. Why not try it this way?
I imagined Jesus as a swarthy, Middle-Eastern type, likely with dark hair, dark eyes, dark curlyish hair, and all the rugged features of a man who had worked with his hands all his life under difficult economic, social and political circumstances. I figured on a 30-ish-year old man, whom time, and the times, had aged beyond his years.
So I put art pencil to paper, and I achieved a result. It was unsatisfying, to say the least. It was a challenging exercise, and I learned from it. One thing I learned was that I was a lot better with a model; that either what appeared in my mind’s eye wasn’t of sufficient resolution that I then could render it on paper or, simply, I was not skilled enough to capture what I imagined.
I filed away the exercise, the learning and the portrait.
Fast-forward to yesterday. On came the FOX movie made from Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s book, “Killing Jesus.”
And there, in the person of the actor playing the role of Simon Peter, was the face staring out from my portrait, done so many years ago.
Here’s a picture of the actor, one Alexis Rodney, as Simon Peter:
Here’s the picture I drew all those years ago:
My subject is older, more careworn than the other “Simon Peter” above. And you see the resemblance much better when the actor is facing directly at you, as the portrait does. However, there are very few pictures on the internet of this actor in his role as Simon Peter, and this was the best I could find. Also, the actor has a defiant, combative expression on his face, while my subject is plainly bone-tired, weary, ready for a long nap. That deep weariness was a look I was going for when I drew the portrait.
But my picture is pretty much the same guy as the actor, nearly a dead ringer.
So what do you think? Miracle? Of just improbable coincidence?