Old rugged cross

I was in pain and they asked me to paint.

To help re-direct my attention away from the severe pain I was experiencing, they put a paint brush in my hand, propped up a canvas on a small easel, and gave me a box of paints. The pain was from the latest round of radiation treatment for cancer and the painkillers I was on – oral morphine plus morphine patches plus steroids – were not working. I was in a surly mood.

This is Art therapy, they said. It is part of the Pain Management Programme.

Mike art therapy painting

This was something new. At first I thought it would be a waste of time and effort as I could hardly move my right arm and shoulder due to the bone cancer, and I had to use my left hand to support my right arm to hold the paint brush.

In my first try, I painted my story: a flock of birds flying away from danger and towards a Church on a hill for support and help.

Which also reflects the Song:


On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross

The emblem of suffering and shame

And I love that old cross where the dearest and best

For a world of lost sinners was slain


So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down

And I will cling to the old rugged cross

And exchange it some day for a crown


To the old rugged cross I will ever be true

It’s shame and reproach gladly bear

Then he’ll call me someday to my home far away

Where his glory forever I’ll share.


So if you are given a chance to try out this Art Therapy Programme. Don’t knock it. Just try it out. It really helped me feel better and now I am a believer.


Michael Roberts