This is a photograph of a decaying fresco on the wall of a Roman Catholic church in Spain. Originally it looked more like this: (Which I think is a lovely painting.)
When she was finished, it looked like this:
Yeah - not so good. I don't think it would have scored very high in our recent contest. Authorities were thinking about pressing charges for vandalism, but it turns out the priest had given her permission. (Complete story here.) The botched restoration has spread around the internet in both serious and funny forms. This one is probably my favorite:
The woman who attempted the restoration is named Cecilia. And I feel bad for her, because I think this is something that I might have done. Had I lived in Spain, and been Catholic, and was old, and had no artistic talent whatsoever.
The reason I feel bad is not because of the damage she did to the painting, or the fact that the church is now a tourist spot, or that her family had to donate money to try and fix the mess. I feel bad because I understand how it happened.
Have you ever taken on a task and had it just get away from you? I have. I understand the expression "It just went South on me." I can imagine Cecilia began her "restoration," and then realized that it was not going so well. My response would have been the same as hers: Keep going and try to fix it. Rather than stop and get help, I would have just kept trying to fix my mistake, as it got worse, and worse, and worse. Until I had created a monster. In her case, literally.
Sometimes we just don't have the ability to "fix" things. Sadly, sometimes we won't acknowledge it until we have made a total disaster. I don't know if we do that out of embarrassment, or conceit, or desperation, or fear. But I do know that what we should do is put the brush down, back away from the canvas, and search for help from someone equipped and willing to fix the problem. A problem that is obviously too big for me to solve. Ironic that it is a painting of the Savior that exemplifies this so well.
I feel for Cecilia, and I understand her.
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