When we think about think about talent, we often think that someone has to be born with it. And it doesn’t occur to us that a child of an atheist would come to demonstrate faith in the biggest way imaginable. But it does happen. How do I know? Because it happened to the girl in the picture above. Her name is Akiane (I think it is pronounced Ah-ki-a-nuh) Kramarik.
The first time I heard of Akiane, I was reading “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo early last year. In the spring of 2003, the author’s little boy, Colton, suffered from a near-fatal illness and had visions of heaven. After Colton was recovered, his dad kept showing him images of Jesus, and Colton kept shaking his head and saying no, that doesn’t look like him. Finally, Todd showed him Akiane’s painting of Jesus, and Colton said yes.
Akiane was only eight years old when she painted the above portrait of Jesus, called Prince of Peace. Today, she is seventeen, having spent her childhood having visions and painting and dictating/writing poetry from age four. Her mother was an atheist, her father a lapsed Catholic. Akiane’s gifts seemingly started out of the blue, with no coaching or lessons. She’s a self-taught artist, home-schooled, raised in poverty, and eventually, through her paintings and visions, she helped convert her entire family to Christianity. You can view more of her work here.
Akiane was once asked what she would say to God if she could ask him just one question and he would answer, and she said she would ask him what the purpose of extreme suffering is. But, I think we all know what the answer would be, at least on some level. This world was never meant to be our permanent home. We were created to be more than we are because God is more than this world. It is like C.S. Lewis said – “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Sometimes, when we suffer here in this world, it is our own doing, but more often than not, it’s out of our hands. But this life is just for a little while. We are on loan to this world. That doesn’t mean that we should not help make it a better place. We definitely should – otherwise, what is the point? We could sit on our hands all day, refusing to care, refusing to help, or we can make our lives mean something. I choose meaning. I choose hope. Hope is what Akiane wants people to come away with after viewing her artwork, after reading her poetry, after reading about her childhood and her life as it is now. That is what I strive to embody with my own life as well, through my writing and also through compassion for others. We may feel completely alone sometimes, but all we have to do is reach out and grasp somebody’s hand (physically or even spiritually). We are not alone. We just have to stop acting as if we are, that’s all.