Kim Avery Coaching

The Parisian Statue

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Why are all these people looking at me as if I were doing something strange?  Don’t they know that statues can’t move?  Living as art on the Pont St Louis in Paris shows that although there is life within nothing much is happening on the outside.  My role as a statue limits any freedom of action – to smile, speak, sing and even actually sweep the streets clean.  In a way it’s a shame my broom stays fixed to the ground – that growing collection of coins is beginning to spread out rather too much for my liking.  It started as a neat pile not three hours ago and could do with sweeping up again.  I appreciate the money but they do toss their change rather carelessly onto the ground.

But I couldn’t possibly do it.  All a statue can do is look imploringly as the tourists fumble with their coins, deciding how much they can spare, leaving enough for their coffee or entry to the Notre Dame just around the corner.  They don’t notice my eyes and interpret the only part of me that can move.

Sometimes I think what it would be like to move, to live, to sweep.  People passing by me wonder how I can stay so still, but I am only acting out what I am.  Seeing me from the outside they shouldn’t be surprised that I act this way – or rather, don’t act.  I know who I am because that is my self-image.  The powder, the costume, the make-up, the stance – all confirm my identity as a statue.  And statues don’t move, so I don’t have a choice.


You wouldn’t believe the things I hear people say as they pass by.  Arguments about this or that, couples discussing their hopes for the future, artists sharing dreams of their next creation – some even lost in lone conversation with themselves; but they never talk to me.  Once I heard mention of a life-giving spirit.  Something about becoming a living being because of what was inside.

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.   (1 Cor 15:44-45 NASB)

I could use a Life-Giving Spirit right now; someone to free me from the prison of my self-image.  Inside I delight in the thought of cleanly-swept streets, neat piles of change, joining with others in conversations about life.

 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Rom 7:24-25 NIV)

I saw a statue once that just walked away.  Picked up his bag, shook off the dust and sauntered away across the bridge.  It was easy for him.

He had a choice.

Do you?

What “statuesque” metaphors come to mind?


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Photograph © Geoff Cheeseman


  1. Kim Avery

    Hi Geoff,

    What a great story and a great picture of how we live in prisons of our own making.

    What came to mind as I was reading this was the oft told advice, “Don’t believe your own press.” It always nice when others think well of us, but trying to live up to their ideal can lead to unimaginable stress. On the outside, it looks like an attractive prison, but it is still a prison.

    Thanks for sparking my imagination.

    • Geoff Cheeseman

      I wonder which is the easier choice: challenging our own self-perception or the view imposed by others? Neither is easy, of course. And both options highlight our total dependence on the work of the cross to achieve lasting change. Your comment reminded me of our responsibility to affirm others in ways that don’t carry an expectation to live up to our ideals; encouragement over elevation. Hopefully as we model that genuine affirmation for our clients their praise of others will take on that coach-like quality too! Now there’s a topic for another post….


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