“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.So 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?