My First 40 Years
East Concord Living Room 1982 oil on canvas 14x18” Private Collection
This is the interior of the two bedroom apartment I lived in with four other seminary students on East Concord Street in the South End of Boston.We were taking an urban studies course that met every Monday night and other courses that traveling Gordon-Conwell professors taught at the Emmanuel Gospel Center throughout the week. Most of our time was spent reading and studying. I made an effort to paint once a week, for about three hours at a time if I could. My roommates put up with each other and me as best we could. Every Monday night we had a "Gripes and Complaints" session after dinner which, after many heated arguments over who was cooking and why people didn't pick up after themselves, inevitably degenerated into comedic stories and howling sessions that our upstairs neighbors wondered about. We ended up becoming terrific friends, joining each other for weddings and important events over the years to come, and we still keep in touch.
This was the apartment I was living in when I decided to be a painter. A number of experiences were coming to a head which revealed that I needed to make a deliberate, conscious choice about what I wanted to do with my years to come. The seminary’s urban course, led by Doug and Judy Hall, forced me to look at my gifts and consider deeply where they would best be used. The Presbytery whose care I was under noticed that I seemed more excited about the paintings I was doing than the ministries I was involved in and asked me to examine my calling into the ministry. As I prayed, and thought, and considered these things, I eventually accepted the fact that what I loved to do was draw and paint, not work with people. I guess I realized that I was doing no one a favor, least of all God, by going into ministry if I didn’t enjoy working with people. And what would God want me to do with these artistic skills? Bury them? Or use them? So I made my decision in 1981-2 and summed it up with the statement I’ve been saying ever since, that I felt perhaps God could use a happy painter better than an unhappy minister or missionary.