“Surrender” was the word Claire Adams used to describe her obedience to the Almighty. It sounded better than “submission” though
the effect was the same.
Claire always prayed before she went to sleep, and hoped she got credit for praying off and on during the day too. As a successful
middle-aged woman she didn’t pray out of need for a material this or that, or even an emotional that or this, but prayed to be a better
person, a better child of God.
It wasn’t that she considered herself holy (heaven forbid) but she’d had enough God-moments in her life to want to know Him on a
deeper level and make Him proud. Long ago she’d given up the notion of getting her own way, or even wanting her own way. From
experience—having had equal moments of saying yes and no to the God of the universe—she knew that His way was the best way and
it was easier and far more beneficial to just give in. Surrender.
But on this particular summer night, as Claire went through her bedtime ritual of removing her makeup and slathering on three types of
wrinkle cream, she knelt at the side of her bed and offered prayers out of need.
She needed money.
Claire prefaced her request by thanking God for His many gifts: her charming three-bedroom home in a tree-lined neighborhood in
Kansas City; her good health (ignoring her aching knees as they were an expected part of getting older); her status as a single,
independent woman; and her ability to create mosaic artwork that provided a modicum of fame and financial stability.
Business had been slow. There were fewer customers willing to shell out thousands for a large wall piece when they could buy a
wrapped canvas made from their own photo of a waterfall they’d seen on vacation, or purchase a framed landscape for fifty-percent off
from their local craft store. The lack of business was the main reason she’d succumbed to covering bowls, lamps, and boxes with tile
because they could be sold at a price the masses would accept. She had a gallery, but online sales and seasonal art shows were the
new way to reach customers. Yet mosaics were heavy and hard to ship.
She rested her forehead on her clasped hands. “Father? As You know, business is slow. I need to sell more art or I’m going to have to
close the gallery, let Darla go, or . . .” She hated to say the next because she really didn’t want to offer God the alternative, but since
He knew all the details of her life anyway . . . “Or sell the house and move to a smaller place. I know You have a plan and You’ll do what’
s best, so I’ll leave You to work out the details. I trust You. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
With a nod at the heavenly transaction, and a grunt as she pushed herself to her feet, Claire slipped into bed, leaving God to do His
Immersed in a dream, Claire moaned and rolled over in her sleep.
The dream voice said, “Make this for us.”
Us? Who is us?
Before the question was answered she woke up. The glow of her bedside clock emanated a green, otherworldly glow. She reached for
the lamp and flooded her bedroom with its cozy light.
That was intense. She remembered the dream vividly and reached for the paper and pen she kept nearby. She quickly sketched the
image before it faded.
A cross made of arrows pointing outward.
Pink roses and white daisies?
She finished her sketch and looked at it. “What is this?” She did not ask the question with joyful enthusiasm but with confusion and
even a bit of disdain. This was not the sort of mosaic she created. She was known for impressionistic murals. On a smaller scale she
covered furniture tops and created wall and table art that leaned toward geometric, whimsical designs.
Her drawing was whimsical all right. Nonsensical. Bizarre. No one would buy such a design. It reminded her of the Byzantine mosaics
she’d seen in Turkey because there was a sacred overtone to the design. Although Claire’s faith in her art was strong, this piece . . . it
was not something her customers typically purchased.
“I need to make money,” she said to her empty house.
Claire looked at the drawing and the quick notes she’d made to match her dream image. The arrows were aqua, the center circular
area at their junction was black, the roses pink, and of course, the doves were ivory. White daisies were scattered within the arms of
the arrows. These were not her colors. At all. Claire hated pastels. She was drawn to bold jewel tones. Pink and aqua belonged in little
girls’ bedrooms, not in her art.
She looked at the clock. It was half-past one, far too early for even Claire to get up. She set aside the sketch, turned off her light, and
snuggled into her pillows hoping to dream of something sensible.
Claire woke in the morning refreshed, having had a dreamless sleep for the second half of the night. She drove to her studio to work
on her newest project, a royal blue and gray wall mosaic of waves. Or sky. She wasn’t sure yet.
Her cell phone rang and she answered. It was Agnes from her favorite Kansas City antique mall.
“Have time to swing by, Claire? I have a present for you.”
“I love presents.”
“Then get yourself over here. Soon. I need to get the stuff out of the way.”
Claire detoured to the mall. Agnes often gave her a heads-up about old trash that Claire made into treasures. Adding mosaic tile to
the top of a 1930s dresser or covering a tin platter with tiles was fun and usually profitable.
Ten minutes later, she arrived and found Agnes at the front counter. “Come with me.” Agnes led her into the back room, to the
overhead door. Just inside were five 12” x 12” boxes.
“See for yourself.”
Claire opened a box to find thousands of white and ivory tiles. Tiny pieces, most no bigger than one-fourth of an inch wide. “Are the
boxes all the same colors?”
“I didn’t check.”
Claire opened each box and found one filled with black tiles, one greens . . . All very usable. But the last two boxes made her pull up
short. No. No way.
“What’s wrong?” Agnes asked. “Those two full of gold or something?” She went to see for herself. “Pink and turquoise?”
“Excuse me, Miss Artist. Aqua. They’re pretty. Why are you staring at them like they’re kryptonite?”
Long story. “Where did you get these?”
“I have no idea. They showed up outside this morning. I have no use for them. Thought of you. The price is right. Free?”
It took Claire a moment to respond. This was far too strange.
“I said they’re free?” Agnes repeated. “You want them or not?”
“I want them. Thanks.”
“Great,” Agnes said. “Now come to the counter. I found a couple tin bowls you might like.”
“Be there in a minute.” Claire waited until Agnes had left, then stared at the tile. “Is this tile from You, Lord? Was the dream from You?
Was the voice in the dream You?”
There was no other explanation.
Claire bowed her head, her thoughts a jumble. She let the implications rise and fall until she could breathe in a regular rhythm.
She lifted her gaze upward. “All right then. I have no idea why You want me to make this, but I’ll do it.”
Copyright 2020 Nancy Moser
Mustard Seed Press