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Posted September 19, 2015


I happened to be shopping with my child in Bagbey House, an antebellum home once turned into a recording studio where Amy Grant, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill, and Jimmy Buffett used to record, now a shopping destination in the heart of Franklin, Tennessee, when my now grown daughter disappeared. Exactly what she used to do while I shopped when she was a toddler. Searching downstairs, no daughter. Did I dare venture upstairs where a ghost from the Civil War could sometimes be heard?

Once upstairs, my child's voice drifted down the hallway with a sweet Southern lilt. She was chatting away with a gentleman I soon learned was the talented and renowned artist and poet, Robert Coleman. Invited into the conversation, I discovered Mr. Coleman--Bob, as he insisted we call him--was gifting my daughter with some calligraphy work she planned on framing. When asked if she could pay him, he refused payment, saying the Lord had told him to bless others. Intrigued about his Christian walk, I asked for more of his story.

Bob's life hadn't been picture perfect. There had been a few bumps along his road like the bumps most of us encounter before surviving a few pot holes. Some of his trials and tribulations were incredible, others heart breaking. Some victorious. Above, he's painting Aunt Ronnelle who was a character in the movie "Miss Fire Cracker" starring Holly Hunter. He'd managed, however, through life's difficulties, to live joyously with the help of his beloved Savior and he wasn't ashamed of saying so.

With the stroke of his pen, even the letters Mr. Coleman inked out, jet black onto white paper, spoke pure poetry. Poetry in fluid motion. There was love with flair in every name he penned. I had to know more about this gentle giant and bought one of his poetry books. Now friends with Bob, my daughter and I parted ways with the artist after having spent most of the afternoon soaking in his stories. Later, when I finally sat down to write this post, I took a moment to first read some of Bob's poetry in Rays of Light: Poems by Robert Coleman. Here's one of my favorites:

God Gives to Each a Part

Only God can take the flower seeds

And make them bloom in spring.

And blend them with unsightly weeds

And still make sad hearts sing.

To capture such a picture here

Where color masses spread,

The weed tinted land brings cheer

When roses' blooms are red.

A rose bouquet and that alone

Can give you change of heart.

But like the rocks around a stone.

They all share equal part.

But to see a star shining bright

Against the dismal dark,

I quickly see how weeds cast light

On roses in the park.

God gave us weeds and flowers too

And hearts to understand.

He waters all with morning dew

Throughout our lovely land.

We cannot cut the weeds away

From every clod of sod.

But we can learn more everyday

Why they were made by God.

This world would be a dreadful place

If God made all the same.

If every man had the same face

We'd all have the same name.

There are no favorites with God.

Though He has smiled upon

The rose. He has blessed all the sod.

Even where the weeds were sown.

I think that Heaven could be compared

To nature, here on earth,

For through His love, God has prepared

Each one must prove its worth.

There are people, like weeds I see,

'Most everywhere in life.

Some wished they were a flower or tree

And fill their hearts with strife.

There are a few. Like roses too.

So fair, at times self praised.

But God placed them among those, who

Are low, and must be raised.

Those ugly weeds just make me stare

At flowers, there instead,

And I thank God for roses where

There's life among the dead.

And now this scene brings greater cheer

With gratitude in heart,

I see why God holds the rose so dear,

And gives the weeds a part.

Those faithful saints in past have said,

God's love was proved when He

Raised Jesus from the hopeless dead.

He'll do the same for me.

After reading this poem, I was stunned. I recalled the day my daughter and I had met Bob, we had returned to her home where I proceeded to tackle some weeds growing along a fence line. Upon closer inspection, however, they were more like wild flowers--the most delicate shade of lavender blooms I'd ever seen. I was familiar with Goldenrod, Purple Thistle, and Queen Anne's Lace, but this was one wild flower I'd never encountered.

Since the bouquet of store bought flowers sitting in a Waterford vase in the foyer were going the other way, I decided I'd put together a fresh bouquet with what I could find in the flower beds around the house. There were those gorgeous red roses in front of my car. Hmmm. A bouquet of all red roses? Brilliant and velvety. But no. Those lavender "weeds" intrigued me and had to come into play somehow. I tackled the fencerow. Hearing laughter from the garage, I heard, "Mom, are you foraging?"

"Yes," I replied, laughing along with her because she'd caught me in the act. "From your yard and your weeds!"

Yes, I was clipping the "weeds," when my child wasn't looking, I clipped some of her coleus, okay, a bunch of her coleus and prayed for later mercy. Then a magnolia bud surrounded by waxy green leaves looked tempting. Surely she wouldn't miss just one. Then I decided a couple of red roses might also bring something elegant to the foraged party.

When I arranged the flowers and "weeds" in the Mason jar--Waterford certainly wouldn't do this party justice--I stepped back to take a look. Though the arrangement was simple in design, I thought it one of the most beautiful arrangements I'd ever put together. And so did my daughter. In fact, she said, "I even think it would be beautiful without the roses." A big score. The weeds were casting their light on the fancy roses. It wasn't until I later read Bob's poem that I realized my hands had recreated what his poetry conveyed. And all unknowingly and before delving into his book.

God surprises make my toes curl.

And the way He has such a delightful way of bringing his children closer together and in doing so, gifts us with such wonderful treats, keeps me amazed. But most of all, I'm so thankful that, "Those ugly weeds just make me stare at flowers there instead, and I thank God for roses where there's life among the dead. And now this scene brings greater cheer with gratitude in heart, I see why God holds the rose so dear and gives the weeds a part."

So nice meeting you Bob. And may our paths cross again one day soon. You're a real Tennessee treasure--by way of Mississippi--and I'm so thrilled you now call me friend and pray for me. I can't wait to frame my calligraphy gift with the special blessing written below your artwork.

To listen to Bob recite "The Stone" visit here Bob Coleman reciting "The Stone" To learn more about Bob's artwork visit Bob Coleman You may have to type in Bob Coleman in the name search box, however, the article about him is well worth the extra key strokes.

Comments anyone?

If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com

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