Editor’s note: Leading up to CIVA’s biennial conference, Lawan remembered this piece by her friend Robert Feuge that we thought could be beautifully showcased as a bumper sticker and made available to conference attendees. Good news: additional stickers are available to purchase in the CIVA Store – go check them out!
By Robert Feuge
The title of this art piece came to mind as I reflected on Jesus being fully human and Mary being the earthly mother of God. I felt the need to put Jesus and Mary not so much in a box but in a twenty-first-century context so I could better wrap my mind around why our Creator would join us as part of his creation and suffer such pain on our behalf. My work here is more to provoke questions than offer answers. I come from a community where what you wear, who you know, and what you drive matters. It is not much different than any other community in the world. We all want to belong and connect to humanity in our own way. I happened to see a bumper sticker on the back of an expensive SUV that boasted, “My son is an ‘A’ student at . . .” The woman driving the car was perfectly dressed, the late-model car was perfectly clean, and the boy-child was shiny and bright. It struck me how hard this family was trying to look perfect and be perfect in an imperfect world, especially since the driver had just lurched in front of me without using her turn signal and almost crashed into my ‘67 VW bus. I pulled up alongside her and gave her “the stare.” She glanced back at me and mouthed very carefully, “You’re a bum,” and then turned right. I mumbled back, “Who do you think you are? Jesus?” VW Van
That’s when the thought occurred to me: “If Jesus had been born in these present times, what would His world look like? What would Mary be driving? What would she be wearing? Would Jesus need to be in a safety seat? Was Jesus an “A” student? Did Mary have a bumper sticker on her car, and what did it say? Where were his brothers, and did they feel pressure to be like Jesus? If Mary was the mother of God, where was Joseph, and would he be called the stepfather of God? Was Jesus’ work from his workshop perfect things right off the bat? Did Jesus have food allergies? Did he get sick, and, if so, did he heal himself? My questions went from childlike, to esoteric, to ridiculous, and begged for more questions. I tried to put myself in Mary’s place to answer some of them. Since I lived in a perfect neighborhood but knew I was not perfect—and did not and could not maintain the standard of my community—I had a perfect chip on my shoulder. Most of my friends are nonconformist so I feel the need to be a nonconformist too, and since one of my spiritual gifts is judging others, I have the right to have a chip on my shoulder.
My bumper sticker might say, “My son is not only an ‘A’ student, he also created your child.” Or, “My son thinks you are a bunch of Pharisees.” One can imagine a plethora of answers to a few questions. The truth was and is that I was as off track as I felt my neighbors were. I have been asked to be—and told that I can be—like Jesus. Jesus was fully human but perfect. I am fully human but the goal to be perfect seems unattainable to me. Pointing out others’ futile attempts to be perfect while excluding me from the club seemed to be a bit more self-righteous to me. The fact is, we were both wrong in our attempt to be like Jesus, look like Jesus, or be a nonconformist like Jesus. With that well intention-ed mindset, we will never get there no matter how often we ask the question “Are we there yet?” We were also told that we cannot enter the kingdom unless we become like a little child. The faith and love of a little child is unmistakable. Those attributes are a gift from God that we hurry to trade for those things that drive us in the wrong direction. That question “Are we there yet?” is heard from the tiny voice of a child coming from the back seat and, as we grow, we continue to ask the same question for the rest of our lives. In the case of this art piece, it is not the child Jesus asking the question, but Mary asking Jesus, “Are we there yet?”
Robert’s professional profile tells us . . . “A tree fell in the woods. It was carried to the sawmill. The tree was sawed into lumber. I in turn, take the lumber and turn it back into trees. I approach most everything I do with redemption in mind, whether it be a piece of furniture or a painting. I regard nature as my guide and my love for design as my inspiration to create a work that will be treasured by the one who receives it.”