John_Calvin_by_Holbein

Thoughts on Holbein’s Portrait of John Calvin

To you, O Lord, I offer my heart, promptly and sincerely.  – John Calvin

From the time I was eight I have pondered
your portrait, felt your finger pointing at me,
punctuating. each. petaled. syllable
of your theological bouquet
till I could recite you in my sleep.
Your rigid words, stoic pose,
painted stare intimidated me,
like the look my mom would give
(and I now give my son)
when I fidgeted in church.
For years I searched and turned away
from what Geneva’s Genius had to say,
until I saw the slimmest smile – for me?
not scolding but proud, the teacher
attending his pupil’s commencement.
Your gesture no longer accuses or alarms,
but points to the One who works all things for good.
I follow your gaze to my parents’ faith, my faith,
keep my hand-held heart at the ready, reaching,
ever reaching out in offering to Christ.

Amy Nemecek lives in Tustin, Michigan. Her work has appeared in Topology, Mothers Always Write, The 3288 Review, and Indiana Voice Journal. When she isn’t working with words and homeschooling her teenage son, Amy enjoys long walks along country roads.