Stephen Ruggero, Oil Painter
How a candy cane changed my life
My paintings weren't always filled with light; some could say they were even quite dark. Until one day in December 1995 when I exited a drug store in Pomona, California. There were two teenage girls handing out candy canes. One approached me, handed me a candy cane and said, "God bless you." I hesitated, thinking there was more. But that's all she had to say. Expecting her to "sell" me something, I was caught off guard by the simplicity of her message. What struck me more however, was the peace in her eyes. I couldn't deny that these two teens had more peace than I did! I was haunted.
Attached to the candy cane was the name and address of a local non-denominational church. I decided to keep the card..."just in case".
I drove by the church for months never intending to enter but always remembering the noticeable calm and self-assurance of those two girls.
The draw to visit became overwhelming. I drummed up the courage to go one Sunday, hoping I could slip in unnoticed. As I sat slunked in the back row, I hoped no one would talk to me because I was sure they'd find out I was a miserable wreck!
Long story short, the church was full of people just like the teenage girls - full of peace and the authentic love of Jesus. I was hooked. And more than 20 years later I still am.