Tag Archives: colors

Adding color to the world

Last week, a friend came over to bake Christmas cookies, and she brought a bouquet of winterberries. I might have seen these berries growing somewhere outside at some point in my life, but I could not recall when or where.

I put the dark brown stems with their bright red berries into a vase that looks like a birch tree and put them on my kitchen counter. Every time I walked into the kitchen, their vibrant color brought me joy.

God-hope-joy

A few days later, I travelled to a rural area in Pennsylvania, and alongside the house where I stayed was a winterberry bush, with its bright red berries.

God-hope-joy

Twice in one week, I thought.

Perhaps they are a reminder that even in the coldest, darkest time of year, something beautiful is still growing and adding color to the world.

Wearing purple

I was still young when I read the poem,

When I am old,

and I wondered why anyone would wait

to wear purple.

My wardrobe was saturated with purple—

shirts, jumpers, hats, coats, scarves and gloves.

Even purple shoes

(because life is too short to wear black,

my sister said when we were shoe shopping).

Is purple the color of old women

the way pink is the color of little girls?

Was my love of wearing purple a sign

that I was old before my time?

I wondered about other parts of the poem, too.

Why wait to gobble up samples in shops…

And learn to spit?

Perhaps it is an insight into my upbringing that

I thought store samples were for me and that

I learned to spit as a girl on the farm

(we had contests to see who could spit the furthest),

and I kept on spitting as a women runner.

No, wearing purple was never a sign that

I had become an old woman.

But when I was out for my walk the other day

(wearing my purple jacket, by the way)

and tripped and fell,

I knew I had crossed the a line

and had become

an old woman.

Ten years later, this same niece instructed me, “Expand your color palette, Aunt Madeline,” after I had commented that the scarf she had selected for me in shades of gold and brown was unlike everything in my closet.

Expand your color palette

 

vulnerability-God-spirituality
“Purple and green,” my five-year-old niece responded when I asked, “What is your favorite color?” I was planning to sew her a dress.

Purple and green? Two colors I would not have put together.

But to please her (and because I had asked) I set out to find fabric with those two colors. It turned out my niece knew more about colors than I did; I found lots of fabric in combinations of purple and green. How had I never noticed this color combination before?

Ten years later, this same niece instructed me, “Expand your color palette, Aunt Madeline,” after I had commented that the scarf she had selected for me in shades of gold and brown was unlike everything in my closet.

I doubt that my niece meant anything deeper than encouraging me to diversify the colors in my closet (I mainly wrote black clothes accessorized with colorful scarves), but simple words often hold deeper meanings.

Both her “favorite” color combination and her color palette comment have come back to me on numerous occasions—sometimes when I am considering a clothing purchase, but also when I find myself looking at something as I always have and am resistant to change the way I see, those times when I hold tight to what I believe, when I know what I know.

What if I could see things differently? What if I expanded my palette to see situations from different perspectives?

“Look for golf balls in the trees,” our Alaskan tour guide instructed us. “Each one is the head of an Eagle.” Where before I could not find even one Eagle, all of a sudden I saw many; trees were full of them. They were right before my eyes; I only needed to know what I was looking for.

This kind of looking and seeing requires an awareness and an openness. I need to be able to admit that I have narrow vision and preconceived ideas in order to consider seeing in a different way. And I need to be open to reality from a different perspective.

Difficult for me to do, especially because I like my views—and my friends tend to agree with me—so I must be right—right? What if God does not care about my need to be right?

After the U.S. presidential election last fall, a friend got an interesting assignment in her inter-faith dialogue group. The group leader invited them to interview someone who had voted for the “other” candidate. The caveat was that they were just to listen to the response—not to challenge the person’s decision or to defend their own votes, but just to listen.vulnerability-God-spiritualitySo often, I think I know why people do what they do—without even asking.

What if God is inviting me to ask questions and listen for answers that might not support my view? What if God is asking me to use my eyes to see and my ears to hear? To truly expand my palette?