Hanging a (heavy) Story on the Wall

– contrast between traditional Chinese and Peter Max!

Saturday afternoon, forced by the incessant rain to rest from our gardening initiatives, Rebekah and I tackled a tricky project that looks much more straightforward than it actually was.

Our huge achievement was – simply – to hang the large picture you can see between the front windows in our living room. It is tremendously heavy and turned out to be a big challenge.

First, the Story:

Back in the 1940’s, when Rebekah’s parents were at Columbia Seminary, they became close friends with a Chinese minister who was there to deepen his Reformed theological education. Rebekah’s mother gave hours of invaluable assistance when he was preparing his doctoral thesis, both with typing and helping to narrow down the right English words.

The minister returned home to China amidst the uncertainty of revolution and the very real promise of coming persecution. Before he left he thanked his friends by giving Nell two beautiful pieces of treasured art from his homeland.

50 years later, Nell left the Chinese art to her daughters. The smaller piece came to Maul Hall and the larger went to Rachel and Tom, who had theirs mounted and secured in a museum quality frame. Then, after Rachel’s death Tom gave the artifact to Rebekah and the pictures were reunited once again.

But you don’t just throw something like that up on a wall. The framed work is not only huge but almost too heavy for one person to lift.

Rebekah did some research and found a black steel cleat (officially a granite countertop support bracket!) to help take the weight. She anchored the bracket securely in the wall and I did some complex measuring and calculating before positioning two substantial weight-bearing picture hooks for the ring hangers secured in the frame.

Finally, and this was – I believe – a great idea, I found some black rubber to use as a gasket between the bottom of the frame and the steel cleat.

I have shared before how being handy is absolutely not one of my natural inclinations. So a successful installation like this always leaves me with a good feeling.

So What?

The “so what?” of this post is the history, the story that goes with these wonderful works of art.

One day, perhaps sooner than later, Rebekah and I will downsize again and it will be significant. Stuff will go, lots and lots of it. But one thing we will never downsize are the stories.

Our lives are rich – we are rich – not because of the size of our savings accounts or the cost of our home or the appraised value of anything that we own. We are rich in experience, and in spirit, and in relationships, and in the wonderful stories that come out of living faithful lives among faithful people.

I am thankful we got the HUGE & HEAVY Chinese painting up on the wall without any real disaster… But I am even more grateful for the stories that go with it.

Now if only we could follow up with the family Bob and Nell’s Chinese minister friend left behind…?

Grateful for all the stories – DEREK

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