HOW IT CAME INTO MY POSSESSION
TRUE STORY OF A CHARCOAL DRAWING
BY: SUNNY ORLY COFFMAN
AUGUST 26, 2005
I am compelled to give you a brief background so this story makes more sense… therefore, I’m going back to the mid 1980’s. Nell and James Farmer were life friends of mine. James was a good friend even in my Junior High School days at J. P. Elder in Ft. Worth. He took me to the Jr. High School Graduation banquet… came to pick me up in his Dad’s 46 Plymouth and bought me a wrist corsage to match my dress. We were just good buddies. We both played in band – he played the bass tuba and I played the baritone saxophone.
James had married a pretty and sweet gal from Louisiana soon after graduation and they spent the rest of her time on earth married. Through the years, they had not birthed children, so at James’ insistence, they adopted two little girls from the Lena Pope Orphan’s home in Ft. Worth. These two girls were blood sisters, abandoned by their parents.
James had worked as a crane operator for years, had started his own company after moving to San Antonio, Texas. And then some economic things adversely affected his business and he found himself out of a job. After months of searching, he located employment – once again operating a crane, but in Dallas – not San Antonio… so I invited them to live in our home – knowing finances did not allow them to maintain an apartment in Dallas and keep up their lovely home in San Antonio. It was sometime during those two years that they lived here – that the event I’m going to tell you occurred.
On occasion, when I was in town, Nell and I would make a trip to San Antonio to trim trees, cut grass, check the house, visit neighbors of hers there, etc. It was on one such occasion that we had put in a big day working at their home, and had been invited by Bobbie, one of her next-door neighbors, to come for a hot beef stew and cornbread dinner. It was fall, and a Texas “norther” was blowing in.
Just as dinner was ready to be served, Rhonda, one of the Farmer’s adopted daughters arrived with a guy she had “picked up beside the highway.” Rhonda was in her early 20’s around this time and this young man looked to be only a few years older. He was sandy blonde haired, tanned, clean but simply dressed, and carried no suitcase – only an artist’s portfolio. He had been hitch-hiking and Rhonda, realizing that a storm was descending upon the area, felt compassion to pick him up and bring him to Nell’s home for a meal before proceeding on to take the man to his spoken destination – Round Rock, Texas – north of Austin.
We all had a beautifully hot meal and Nell and I decided it would be wisdom if we volunteered to see that this young man reached his destination rather than Rhonda being on the highway with him alone.
So, after dinner Nell and I set out on the mission to deliver the young man. We had hardly gotten on I-35 North and left the San Antonio area when the rain and wind intensified severely. As I recall, we were only about 5 miles north of San Antonio when we had a flat tire on Nell’s car. The young man spoke up and said, “ma’am, do you have a spare and a jack and a tire iron?” Nell assured him that all of that equipment was in the trunk of the car. He suggested she open the trunk from inside and allow him to change the tire. She thought he should wait until the rain subsided, but he insisted on going ahead and repairing the tire so we could get on down the road.
The young man opened the door and stepped out into the deluge and was not outside even two minutes, as Nell and I observed. Much to our surprise, he was back in the car announcing that everything had been taken care of and we were free to move ahead. We ladies were in shock – since the flat tire was on Nell’s side of the car, she couldn’t help but crack the door enough to confirm that the tire was, in fact, changed and the replacement was up and functional.
We continued on our northerly path, passing through Austin and on into Round Rock. We were directed where to turn off the Interstate and a few further turns – when we arrived at a small Episcopal Church set back in an arbor of trees. I observed that it was nearing 11:00 pm, didn’t see any lights on in the buildings on the property, and asked if this young man was assured of having a place to sleep. He let us know that he had been at this location many times and that he was confident his needs would be met.
By this time, the storm has passed and the rain had ceased. This young man stepped out of the car, came to Nell’s window and apologized for not having money to offer to pay for her gasoline. But he thanked her profusely for the much needed ride and the company. He came around to my window and said, Ma’am, I’m not sure what all of this is about, but I’m being prompted to give you a drawing. And, he opened his artist’s satchel and pulled out a charcoal drawing of a black man sitting on a sidewalk… wine bottle between his legs, back leaning against a double door that had once been secured by a 1” x 4” nailed across the opening of the two doors.
I reached in my purse and extended a large bill to the fellow, and he responded, “Ma’am, you don’t understand. This drawing is a gift.” I assured him I fully understood it was a gift and was not negating the joy of receiving the gift and the willingness of his heart to give the gift. But I told him that I sensed he had a need for finances and wanted to share what I had with him. He thanked me kindly, took the money offered, turned, and walked off, disappearing into the thicket of trees… never to be seen again!
To this day, I have no idea if Nell Farmer and I had been blessed to experience being in the presence of an angel… or what the explanation of all this experience really reveals… but the drawing is special and now it occupies a place of prominence in our home as an ever present reminder of God’s mysteries and provision.
There are many hidden things within this drawing… we’ve found a dove, a rainbow, Jesus Christ on the cross, the 1” x 4” that once barred entrance through the door is now visibly broken open so all may pass through. While the man in this drawing appears to be in a hopeless state… there are many signs within the drawing to draw the viewer’s thoughts to life, health and hope! What a great gift! What a graphic expressing the Love of God manifesting in ALL situations!
CHARCOAL DRAWING – HOW IT CAME INTO MY POSSESSION [Sunny Orly Coffman] 8-26-05 1