Just A Line

Drawing by my son, Elijah Judge

I had plans to become a famous artist. If I didn’t achieve instant recognition, I would teach at Harvard University until galleries began requesting my paintings. But here I am…after four years of art school, I stand on an alphabet rug and attempt to gain the attention of fifteen pairs of eyes. 

Instead of demonstrating the importance of the subtle variations in line thickness as the artist feels the edge of his subject through his medium, whether charcoal or paintbrush, I draw a line with chalk. “Can anyone tell me what I drew?” 

Many hands wiggle in the air, so I call on the last hand raised, belonging to Anniah with large eyes and braids to her waist. “It looks like my shoelace before my mommy ties it into a bow.” 

I need to change the subject before tears well as the class misses mom and wants to go home. “Well, it could be a shoelace. Does anyone else have an idea?” 

I point to Liam who bounces on his seat. “Is it silly string?” 

“Could be. Let’s start at the beginning and call this a line. Everything begins with a line. With a line we can form shapes…and with shapes we can form objects we see or something we imagine.” 

“What’s imujin?” 

“You imagine all the time. Does anyone like to build with Legos?”  

“Me! Me! I do!”  

“When you first get your box of Legos, you probably follow the directions to build the car on the box, but what do you do when it falls apart?” 

“I throw the pieces.” 

“Okay. That might hurt someone. Maybe you can build something else that you imagine. A spaceship or a monster.” 

I hand out the favorite medium for kindergarteners—crayons. “First draw a straight line. Then draw a squiggly line that looks like it’s dancing. Next draw an angry line. Now take your favorite color and draw a happy line.” As I suggest ideas, I stroll around the tables admiring the abstract designs they’ve created. My heart smiles. 

Ryan looks up at me and says, “Look…I made music with my lines. It’s Mozart.”  

“Are you sure you’re only five-years-old?”

When they appear to drift into thoughts of playtime and lunch, I call them to the front of the classroom. “Does anyone want to draw outside?” 

“Me! Me! Me!” 

I hand each student a clipboard with paper and a pencil, and we march outside. Two by two. “I’d like everyone to draw the lines they see around this courtyard. Some lines will be straight. Others will be bumpy.” 

It’s refreshing to hear birds singing and smell lilacs and fresh cut grass. I feel like starting a painting after school. The children are quiet as they scratch away at their paper. Maybe a few in the class will blossom into future artists.  

At the end of the class, the students hand me their paper and pencils. Anniah turns back to me and says, “You are the best teacher in the world!” She hugs me and skips out the door with the rest of the class. 

I remember praying that God would guide my future. Of course I meant future as an artist. He had a better plan for me.  Even though I won’t be teaching advanced courses here. I never had so much fun with a line.



Anonymous said…
beautiful story

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