“What you are is God’s gift to you,
what you become is your gift to God.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer
(Michael Davenport, a handicapped Athens street artist)
It was almost a year ago…
We were still living on the western side of Georgia when I caught a news story that was
taking place on the eastern side of our state, in the city of my alma mater.
There was a street artist in the Classic City of Athens, Ga. named Michael Davenport.
Street artists in Athens are nothing new.
I was an Art Ed. major in Athens 40 years ago…artists in any college town tend to
prevail upon the streets.
This story however is not a typical artsy story.
Rather this is the story about a handicapped middle aged man who had lost
both of his arms as a teen.
There was some sort of electrical accident.
Michael lost both of his arms at the age of 13.
Eventually Michael taught himself to write and draw by using his mouth.
I learned about this talented young man about a year ago when there was a news story about
Michael being attacked and robbed.
It seems that some low life thug cold-cocked Michael while he was in a Athens
parking lot doing his art.
Michael was knocked unconscious and robbed of both his earnings and art supplies.
I made a mental note– I wanted to support this young man–I wanted to eventually buy
one of his UGA bulldogs drawings.
Fast forward to yesterday.
My husband and I make almost daily runs to the Lowes and Home Depot in Athens as we continue working
on our new “home” project.
This new home of ours is about 10 minutes outside of Athens.
And as life would have it, it just so happens that Michael stands in front of
the Athens Lowes where he is set up out in the parking, drawing his UGA art.
As I pulled into the parking lot, my husband noted that “‘my artist’ was over there
making his pictures.”
I practically leapt out of the car racing across the parking lot toward Michael.
“Michael, Michael, my name is Julie, I saw you on the news…”
Michael began to tell me his story.
He explained how he was still healing from the brutal attack almost 11 months ago.
Still going to doctors.
He was just finishing up a bulldog that he drew using various Sharpies on a white canvas.
“Michael”, I began, “I don’t have much cash on me, but I would be honored if I could
buy one of your drawings…could I come back tomorrow or would
you be willing to take a check?”
Michael thought for a minute and eventually told me that he would indeed accept my check.
All the while various shoppers were stopping and patting Michael on the shoulder.
Cars would pull up, arms stretched out of windows, each offering cash in hand.
Michael told me to undo the the canvas from the easel and take the pictures he had just finished.
People like Michael remind us all what it means to persevere.
He shares a gift.
A gift that emerged from tragedy.
A gift that has been tested and tried but a gift none the less.
How blessed I was today.
Thank you Michael.
Thank you God.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10