And now, though a grown man with a family of my own, every time I see this picture I am teleported back to the 1980s, sitting in my Grandmother's house, smelling the sweet aroma coming from the kitchen as she labored to prepare a meal for her family, and above all, feeling grateful for all that I have. Yes, it is safe to say that of all the lessons I have learned from the countless hours spent in my grandmother's home the most important thing I learned is gratitude; simple, heartfelt gratitude, and the importance of always expressing that gratitude. As Doctrine and Covenants 59:21 states:
And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.For all of these reasons, this particular picture has become my personal favorite. Officially known as "GRACE", the image was originally captured as a photo back in 1918 by Eric Enstrom. On one particular autumn day, Enstrom had a chance encounter with a bearded, saintly, old salesman named Charles Wilden, who was busily going door to door to sell foot-scrapers in the local Minnesota mining community. But instead of buying foot-scrapers, Enstrom felt impressed to pull out his camera.
"There was something about the old gentleman's face that immediately impressed me. I saw that he had a kind face...there weren't any harsh lines in it," Enstrom said in recalling the 1918 visit of Charles Wilden to his studio.Needless to say, "GRACE" became an instant best-seller. A countless number of homes, restaurants, churches and hospitals became homes for Enstrom's infamous picture.
It happened that Enstrom, at that time, was preparing a portfolio of pictures to take with him to a convention of the Minnesota Photographer's Association. "I wanted to take a picture that would show people that even though they had to do without many things because of the war they still had much to be thankful for," Enstom said.
On a small table, Enstrom placed a family book, some spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife on the table. Then he had Wilden pose in an manner of prayer...praying with folded hands to his brow before partaking of a meager meal.
"To bow his head in prayer seemed to be characteristic of the elderly visitor", Enstrom recalled, "for he struck the pose very easily and naturally." As soon as the negative was developed, Enstrom was sure he had something special... a picture that seemed to say, "This man doesn't have much of earthly goods, but he has more than most people because he has a thankful heart." That Enstrom's camera had captured "something special" is an appraisal widely shared.
Initially, the first "GRACE" pictures were printed either in black and white, or in sepia (brown tone). Later, Enstrom's daughter, Mrs. Rhoda Nyberg, of Coleraine, Minnesota, began hand-painting them in oils, and interest in the picture mounted.
And today, "GRACE" continues to be a best-selling picture/painting. In fact, the State of Minnesota officially made "GRACE" the state picture in 2002. I'd imagine that Charles Wilden probably never thought that his face would be so popular today. But I bet he would be grateful to know that a countless number of people have been touched by the simple yet powerful imagery he helped to bring to life. Yes, it is likely that "GRACE" will continue to touch the hearts of future generations, who sit in the homes of their grandparents on those special Sunday evenings.