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.

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Silence of…

Have you ever noticed how many kinds of silence there are?

There is the quiet silence of joy.

There is the silence of anger, of fuming in a stroke-like gaping horror.

When my daughter gets hurt, and it’s actually more than a little bump, you can gauge the severity of the injury by how long it is before the sound of the cry begins: the longer the silence, the worse it turns out to be.

In worship there can be intentional holy silence and awkward waiting transitional silence and a silence that sits in the middle somewhere between the two.

Silence happens in the morning or night time between the quieting of the night noises and the beginning of the morning activity.

Silence comes in all times and places…

Silence at the right moment is appropriate and called for and necessary. Sometimes I wish there was more of it.

Sometimes there is too much of it. Sometimes there is the wrong kind of silence.

Silence in the midst of injustice, of someone being hurt, is dangerous. Silence can be forced.

Silence is inflicted.

When necessary voices are ignored and harm continues, it is as if there might as well be silence. And then there is too much of the news, the bad piles on top of what is worse and the horrible keeps getting multiplied by the horrifying.

We go deaf in the screaming and are engulfed in the silence that comes from being numbed to the pain around us.

Our ears ring with the echoes of all the shouts around us.

There is no peaceful silence, merely the hush in the eye of the hurricane.

I can’t turn my ears from the cries around me. I can’t turn my eyes from the news of another attack. I can’t turn my heart from the call of the broken.

I choose to look and listen and feel.

I add my voice when I can, speaking a language of confession and kindness. My words may be little better than silence. I doubt my own effort and effect on the noisome roll of news and heartache.

I take moments to attempt entering holy silence. It is one of the few things that is keeping me in strength, patience, and compassion. Holy silence grants me hope.

My hope waits expectantly for joy.

Sweet Life

It’s ice cream season again. Yes, I suppose that it could always be season, but once summer hits I always want it just a little bit more than usual. And now, just in time for the heat to hit as hard as possible, Summer is officially here, just in time, as well, for me to hit the full term of my pregnancy and moving day. It’s not a big deal… of course not. I wonder when the energy of nesting will set in, and if I will be able to nest in my new home, or if our daughter will surprise us in the next week.

And soon, we get to meet our daughter, discover her personality, find out her favorite foods and whether she likes ice cream or not. I imagine she will. I wonder what flavor will be her favorite and if, like my own, it will change. That is the cool thing about preferences; they are allowed to change. We are allowed to decide that we like new things. It’s a good reason to keep trying new things and new ways of doing them so that we can see if there is a way that works better for us than the old way of doing it.

I wonder if my daughter will be sweet, like the poem about sugar and spice and everything nice… I hope, more than sweet, that she will be compassionate. I don’t much care if she is polite as long as she cares for those around her, for those who do not have the same privileges as her. She is being born to two employed white parents with a good marriage and a stable home. It will be part of our job as parents to teach her that she is able to do things that other boys and girls her age have a harder time at, because of different circumstances. We will teach her that she should listen before she speaks, not to be sweet, but to learn about the people around her.

These are lessons, of course, that will happen in a few years. For now, I need to learn some of these things myself, about what my privilege looks like and how I can be in conversation with those who have lived with different experiences and realities than my own. I continue to learn about how I experience the world differently. I hope to learn enough that I can help my daughter learn as well. And perhaps we will be able to sweeten the lives of others and even share some ice cream together.