This is a post I’ve been putting off, because once I put it out there, it’s going to hold me accountable.
I am grateful for the gift of friendships with women who are authentically full of faith, transparently real, readily perceptive of the ridiculous side of life, and willing to engage tough questions with raw honesty. Some of those sister-friends are geographically distant and our face-to-face encounters are sadly rare, so it’s an inestimable delight when God provides that kind of connection in our local context. “Girls’ night out” with Linda and Micki (names used with their permission) is guaranteed to be a time of laughter and refreshingly direct engagement with a wide range of questions.
Linda is blind, and has patiently (and hilariously) taught Micki and me a lot about what it means to navigate the world, church, and faith from that place and perspective. She lets us ask “weird” questions about her experiences and gives us forthright answers. A few weeks ago, Micki asked Linda how she experienced color, since she’s been blind since birth and has never perceived color as a visual experience. Linda told us that the concept of color is associated in her mind with emotions, and gave the example of the color gray being associated with sadness. One of us mused out loud about the many shades of gray that exist, and the other piped up with, “Fifty, to be exact!” (Disclaimer—none of the three of us has been near the infamous book or movie, but the title is “in the air” to such a degree in our historical-cultural moment that it popped right up and sent us all off into peals of laughter at how quickly a serious conversation can get derailed by a random thought.)
In the days that followed that conversation, I began to pay attention to gray. It’s everywhere! The dull, flat gray of pewter. The purple-tinged gray of storm clouds heavy with rain. The cool, smooth gray of slate. The soft gray on the breast of a dove or on the light clouds scudding across the sky after rain. The shiny gray of a rain-soaked street at dawn. The dark grey of fresh charcoal and the ashy gray of the spent coals. And what about these amazing shades of gray in the 64-crayon box from Crayola: Cadet Blue, Crystal, Deep Space Sparkle, Dolphin Gray, Outer Space, Sonic Silver, Timber Wolf, and White Shimmer? Gray is not a non-entity in the world of color, but a full participant! (This is a timely reminder for those of us who look longingly back at the vibrant colors of summer and dread the passage into “the long gray days” of winter.)
How the Creator of all things must delight in subtle hues and myriad variations on a color theme! Multiply all those shades of gray by an equally vast palette of blues, greens, reds, browns, blacks, yellows, and oranges—and you discover an extravagantly abundant feast of color to bring joy to the hearts of those who have eyes to see! All this pondering on gray and celebrating the colors splashed with a lavish hand all through creation led me to two reflection and action points.
First, we live in a time and place when the forces of evil are using every means at their disposal to divide our perceptions of the world into a binary reality of mutually exclusive colors—red or blue, black or white. What might happen if we forcefully rejected such a limited choice and reached out to see, experience, embrace, welcome, and celebrate the multi-hued palette with which God has delighted to paint humanity? How can I personally and intentionally practice such celebration? And it was in the asking of that question that this all came down to a second point. What if this fifty-something, hair-coloring Dr. Nana were to say, “Enough! Time to embrace the gray-to-white spectrum!”? What if that simple act of defiance in the face of culturally-approved choices for women “of a certain age” could serve as a daily reminder to embrace and rejoice in the Creator’s love of the multi-hued humanity that surrounds me, whether those color variations are in skin tone or political persuasion?
If this post appears on my blog, you’ll know I’ve taken the plunge! Feel free to hold me accountable. What steps might you take in your own journey to celebrate the lavish, many-toned palette displayed in the people with whom you share this space and time?