14 November 2007

The Work of Masters

14 November 2007

As I reflect on today, my mind is awash with color. Radiant, beautiful color. It actually began last night, as we drove back into St Petersburg for dinner. Turning the corner, we saw what had to be the largest display of neon, chaser-light, plastic yard art I’ve ever seen. Palm trees, cacti, flowers – all there to brighten up the darkness.

This morning, we took a “tourist break” and visited the Hermitage, one of the largest and most splendid museums in the world. Built originally as the Winter Palace for Catherine, it now holds 3 million works of art. Rembrandt, Cezanne, Raphael, Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet – my eyes could hardly take in all the beauty. The sheer magnitude of it all was amazing. They say that if you spent one second with each piece of art in the museum, it would take 5 years to see it all. With only three short hours to tour, we didn’t scratch the surface.

After lunch, we visited Orphanage #32, located in St Petersburg and home to 51 school-aged children. The orphanage director at this location is progressive, and she has modeled the living situation after more traditional family or group home settings. Small groups of children live in apartments with a housemother – each apartment has a living room, kitchen, dining room and multiple bedrooms. The orphanage also has a dance room, performance stage, and a slew of therapists and teachers. All children are mainstreamed into public school and attend church when they can.

Our group of boys, ranging in age from 7-13, were extremely polite and highly creative. Their prayer boxes were intricate and lovely. Beauty seems to be a theme in the home.

Orphan-created paintings, mosaics, sculptures and paper art line the hallways and decorate shelves. While their work may not hang in the Hermitage, it is as full of passion and beauty – perhaps from these children we’ll see the next Monet or Cezanne.

I can only pray tonight my dreams are as radiant as my reality.

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