I was up in Sacramento with 70 fourth graders last week. And it was a wonderful trip. We visited Sutter’s Fort, Coloma, Old Sacramento, the railroad museum and of course the capital. In front of the capital is the great seal of California. Our guide had us stand there as he described all the symbols impressed on that bronze seal. There is the grizzly bear, 31 stars (California was the 31st state admitted to the union), the shield etc. And tucked over in one corner is a small building that looks very much like one of the missions.
But it isn’t a mission. In point of fact, it is a replica of Folsom prison. It seems the prisoners were the makers of the great seal and they wanted to sign their work. They couldn’t put initials in a corner like a painter might, so instead they hid their “signing” and passed it off as if it were a mission. And it worked, that symbol is still there today.
On the trip, I was reading a biography of Michelangelo. At the ripe old age of 22-23, he sculpted the Pieta. It was (and still is) an amazing piece of art. Until then, no one had accomplished such a feat. But the night before it was to be unveiled, Michelangelo was out wandering in the city and he over heard some men discussing the sculpture. They were surmising that it wasn’t actually Michelangelo’s work. They asserted that someone else did the chiseling and he was just getting the credit for the effort.
The story goes that Michelangelo rushed over to the church, threw off the cover, grabbed a chisel and put his name into the fold of Mary’s garment. He wanted to make certain his work was signed.
I got to thinking about how important it is to take pride in one’s work. We all need to “sign our work” with appropriate means. For some of us, it requires taking responsibility, even when things go awry. For others of us, it means making certain that all the details are accomplished and that things are finished with a flourish.
Unfortunately, we are living in a world that does not value an “honest day’s work” like it may have been in the past. We have become “minimalists” as it relates to effort. We only do what is absolutely required. And too many of us avoid all kinds of responsibility, always trying to pawn it off on someone else.
So maybe this week is a good time to make sure we all sign our work. Sign it with pride. Do an “above and beyond” kind of effort, regardless of the pay. Take responsibility. Let everyone know you are glad to be working at that task. Put your “initials” on every effort.
And prayerfully, one day we will hear those incredible words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant…”
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel