Purple Crayons

When I was a child, my favorite color was purple. I liked purple so much that one year I asked Santa for all the shades of purple for Christmas. Santa did a pretty good job; I received a dozen high quality art markers in various shades of blue and purple, even aquamarine.

I’m not sure if I liked the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon because my favorite color was purple, or if I liked purple because of Harold’s world, but I know that it continues to be one of my favorite children’s stories.

I think it is possibility that draws me to the story.

If you don’t know it, Harold has a purple crayon. He leaves home and goes to explore. He designs a whole world, simply by drawing his crayon along the page. Finally, Harold wants to go home, and so draws all the windows he can think of until he finds his own, and returns home.

He, and by extension the reader, ventures out into the wide unknown, finding friends and creating the world he wants to live in. He’s not really powerful, in a way that you might imagine someone who can create ex nihilo could be. He’s just a kid with a crayon, who is on occasion hungry, scared, brave, lonely, and homesick. He creates the world he wants to live in and sometimes it surprises him.

It’s a powerful story for those of us who have wild imaginations. What if we could use our imagination to create whatever we put our minds to? How could we make the world a better place if we could draw something into existence? What does it take to bring something into existence?

If we don’t have purple crayons to do our creating, then we have to create using the tools we have at hand. I wanted to be more like Harold because I wanted to make the world a better place for everyone in it. We do have a similar power to Harold, we form the world around us by our presence. How we move, act, live, breathe, eat, speak, and share with others shapes the world around us.

We have more power than we realize.

I can’t remember if Harold ever has an eraser, even if he gets one in the subsequent books. He can scratch things out, but he cannot erase what he has drawn into being. Once you draw an alligator, you should probably draw a boat to keep you out of the water. Or perhaps you can draw a smile and make it a friendly alligator… but still you will need to be wary.

What we say and do impacts our world. We are constantly creating our own world around us, we just have to decide whether we want to be active participants in this creation, or go along with what everyone is doing around us.

I hope that I am creating a world that is better. I want to be drawn into a better place.

Reminding Each Other to Breathe

I’ve picked up coloring again. Soon I may be able to color as an activity with my daughter, but for now, she wants to scribble using the exact writing instrument that I am using, regardless of how many she has at her disposal, and so I wait until she is down for her nap before I pull out my colors. Coloring as a meditative practice has become common for folks in my social circle. I find coloring helpful for stilling my mind as I focus intently on one small section of the page I am on.

I get still even when the house isn’t. My mind doesn’t fiddle with each individual thought that would usually distract me. I focus on the color and the shading and the way that the green blends into the blue. I breathe.

I’m not always as present as I would like to be. I get distracted during the day after the seventh time that I have to remind my daughter that people are not for hitting. I focus more on the bright red bite mark I earned from a tantrum than the joy I saw as she walked out the door to go to the library with her daddy.

I need to breathe but it can be hard to focus on breathing when I am tending to the care of a little one. My circle of influence has shrunk considerably since staying home, but now the stakes are much higher. I’m caring for a person who depends on me while still constantly declaring her own agency.

Sometimes we need to remind each other to breathe.

Philosophical Hugs

I think my daughter hugged me for the first time today. Waking up, she makes noises to let us know that she is ready to be not in bed any more so I went in to go get her before we left for the morning. I unzipped her blanket and drew her into my arms up out of the crib. And she held on to me.

She’s kind of done this before, but this time was different. It felt more intentional. She held on, reaching around me, and it wasn’t grasping or a desperate holding on when she pinches the skin of my neck and clutches to me.

She embraced me.

My husband and I are her mainstays. We care for her, talk to her, change her, feed her, provide her with everything she needs as soon as we can figure out what she needs. We are the strong center that she calls for when she gets cold or wet or hungry or lonely. We protect her from falling when she rolls, we hold her safe, and we carry her through the day. She trusts us.

I’ve never been trusted like this.

Granted, I’ve never been able to provide so much for a single person. My daughter depends on me. It’s been a wonderful journey watching her develop her agency. She’s developed control over her hands and her feet and her mouth and her voice and her body. Soon she will be able to do more than roll to where she wants to go as she learns to crawl and to walk. I knew being a parent was cool, I didn’t realize that it would be this full of so many new things. I didn’t imagine that I would get philosophical about a hug from this morning. But here I am, in awe of this human being who is learning who she is just as much as we are learning who our daughter is.

We named her, but she is becoming her own person.

Now, I know that all of you who have raised children of your own have had your own experiences that either relate or sound utterly dissonant. And I know that I sound a bit dewey-eyed about this little human being that has entered my world. I’m sure part of this is due to sleep deprivation. However, this little rebel continues to draw me out of myself, teaching me how to love someone unconditionally. I’m learning how to be a better wife and a better pastor in the mix. I’m learning a little something about God’s love as well. God, who loves us, watches us develop our agency and how we learn to get up and walk, either away or towards a deeper relationship with God. I look forward to the time when I can embrace God and trust God like a child trusts her mother.

In the meantime, I cherish the tiny moments when I get the slobbery half kisses. And that is good.

Prayer to Thrive

God we draw near to you today in faith and trust. Make your presence known to us as we receive your word through all our worship. As we gather, we pray for the people of this church, that as we learn to thrive emotionally, we will be open to granting and receiving the support we need to live wholly in you.

We give thanks for the ways that God blesses others through us as we are faithful givers to the mission that we support as a church. We pray for the people of the Charlotte area as we join together to collect food to fight hunger.  We pray for the people of this nation, especially the community of Flint, Michigan as they grapple with the injustice surrounding their water crisis.

We pray for the children of the world, for their safety and health in all circumstances, especially as their families leave homes torn by war.

As we draw close to you, heal us in body, mind, spirit, and relationship. Lead us to act as your people in all places and at all times.  Amen.