A Fine and Artful Life

The great Jewish teacher and ethicist, Abraham Joshua Heschel, observed that “the meaning of life is to build a life as if it were a work of art.”

I thought of that wisdom when I read that today Rembrandt would be 404 years old (born 1606). I am not sure whether Rembrandt’s life was a work of art, but the art he left of us is incomparable. He took gifts God gave him and created masterpieces.

Rembrandt, self-portrait in 1629 (age 23)

I’m no Rembrandt (I can do sort of decent stick figures if I really concentrate), but I do have gifts God gives me to create my life. My life is what I have to offer the world. If I listen to and work with God, it can be a work of art–unique and in its own way a masterpiece.

Whether anyone remembers me or my life 400 years from now is not for me to say (it seems doubtful), but if my life contributes to the beauty of the present time–perhaps offering a counterpoint to any ugliness around me–then it could be said at my passing, “He lived a good and artful life.”

That would be a fine epitaph.