Eugowra is a pretty little town consisting of just a handful of shops, a pub, museum and general store. It has a total population of 530, but as I discovered it wasn’t always like that. Dotted around the town are significant buildings that give a hint to its much larger past and on the walls are murals telling their history. Other murals are painted on billboards that stand at important historical sights where buildings once stood, long gone but not forgotten.
As I wandered around the town, enticed by murals beckoning from every corner, I realised that this sleepy little town was once a thriving community of sheep farmers, timber getters and granite miners. It throbbed with families whose Saturday afternoons were spent watching The Wizard of Oz at the local theatre, men who went to war and young couples who married and created homes. But then came economic downturn and people moved to larger regional cities to find jobs and the town slowly died.
In the first year 30 artists began to tell the story with brushstrokes on bricks, metal and wood. From bushrangers to rusty cars and the click of the shearers shears, the story unfolded. Two years later there were 65 artists, each one becoming part of the bigger story, and it isn't finished yet. Now tourist coaches stop and people like me are coaxed from their cars, and the town is breathing again. I love the power of a small idea!
We each have an individual story that's unique and we each contribute that story to others in our life ... to siblings and parents, life partners, children and friends. We enlarge each other's story and ours in the process. But in the upcloseness of immediacy, within the parameters of our own world, it's hard to see the bigger picture.
Just last week a friend reminded me that about 35 years ago I introduced her to the author, George MacDonald and began for her a love affair with his books. Now she is watching her children come to love his stories too. Day by day we throw pebbles into a pond unaware of where the ripples will lead. We don't just cook a meal for our family, create a home or have coffee and a conversation with a friend, we are investing in people's lives and trust that God will take our small investments and paint them into the bigger picture we don't yet see.
My life and yours probably won't ever be depicted in a gallery but can I encourage you to record it in some way so those who follow after you might see the bigger picture ... will understand how your life was a part of who they are ... maybe catch a glimpse of the ripples on the pond you set in motion.
I was privileged to write the history of the suburb where I live. Over four years, I sat and talked with folk who'd lived the history. By the time the book was launched, some of those people had died and their story would have died with them but thankfully it is now recorded for generations to come.
You don't have to write a book, you can narrate it in your own voice and record it - what I would give to hear my father's voice today! It could be just a series of photos and captions and maybe you get the whole family involved because it's their story too, but whatever you do, leave a witness to your life for those who follow and a testimony to the hand of God in your life.