by Penny Mitchell


As I watch minor puffs of pending precipitation waft across the sky like smoke signals, I marvel at the ability of nature to move between constant horizons. I am reminded of our tendency to fix motion and emotion in a snapshot of life.

We are quick to condemn in the courts of our mind. “A leopard cannot change its spots,” we say, convinced that a person will be frozen for ever in a framework of our judgement.

I was surprised to learn, from an online phrase finder, that the origin of this idiom is the bible, Jeremiah 13:23 (Old Testament).

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also can you do good who are accustomed and taught [even trained] to do evil.”

Zondervan (2010-08-17). Amplified, Bible, eBook (p. 1093). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

In a good story, characters should change. When trapped beneath the ‘paintbrush’ of an accuser some years ago, I wrote the poem you will find at the end of this blog. At the time of writing it and when I later wrote and rewrote a whole work of fiction around the ‘spots’ of my accuser’s character, I ignored the notion that my bad guy could ever be good. After all, he had to be willing. So much for my fiction.

I confess then that I have been both a victim and a perpetrator of the sinful art of framing.

I recently went to a Christian friend’s funeral. This man had changed significantly after his spiritual conversion. Evident from the eulogies of family and friends was a legacy of hope to steady us all in this evil world.

I find it interesting that Jeremiah refers to training. Those of you who have read my blog – Voices that Matter – what I did with my 67 minutes and more on Mandela Day (, might have noticed my focus on the upbringing of our children. “Children should be brought up to love, not hate. What kind of parent brings up a warrior? And yet there are those that do and call it honourable.”


I sit here and consider
The frame you’ve put me in
Accusations of your cruel heart
Over which I cannot win

The frame is not soft wood
But steel, sharp and icy cold
Deceptions in your mind
Untrue, harsh thoughts unfold

For if I were the artist
Every brush stroke would seem right
Not faulty or distorted
Like your picture which I fight

For should I accept the image
You have of me
I surely would be destroyed
And never ever free

Painted with double standards
I swim before your eyes
Too late I think I’m drowning
When will you realize?

So when you’ve finished painting me
And hung me on your wall
Forgive me if I escape for
From your dis-grace I fall

If I become more distant
It’s because I cannot live
Inside the framework of your mind
My very soul to give

I have resolved not to fix a person within the boundaries of my assumptions. Tomorrow is another day, and who knows what God can paint with a willing heart? Nobody’s perfect, least of all me. Let’s hope and pray for a masterpiece to be thankful for


One thought on “Framed

  1. Hazel Bond says:

    Loved your poem and enjoyed the article. All so true.

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