Jessica toddled up to me and proudly passed me her picture. To be quite honest, I wasn’t at all sure what it was supposed to be – it looked nothing more than a scribble – but I readied myself to make suitably enthusiastic and encouraging noises.
“Red!” said Jessica, pointing happily to one of the scribbled lines. “Yellow!” she said, pointing to another. “Orange” said her mum, pointing to a third. “Orange!” echoed Jessica.
How wrong I’d been. Jessica’s picture wasn’t meant to be anything at all. It was simply a celebration of colour.
Most of us take colour for granted. Not always, of course. Who does not marvel at a sunset, pure colour painted across the sky from an ever-changing palette as the sun dips down to the horizon? But mostly colour is just there, such an integral, fundamental part of the world around us that we barely notice it and rarely feel any need to remark upon it.
Yet why should there even be such a thing as “colour”, and why should we be able to perceive it as we do? There’s no essential reason for things to be this way. Just imagine for a moment a world without colour, a life lived out in black and white and shades of grey.
Yes, colour is remarkable. Colour should be celebrated! But most of us, I suspect, need first to train ourselves truly to notice colour. Not simply see it, but take note of it. Then, perhaps, we’ll begin to appreciate and enjoy colour as little children do.
But how to do this? Here’s one idea. Simply choose a colour and then actively look out for it in the world around you. Like a child, point it out wherever you see it (to yourself, I mean – others might be less keen to hear your observations!) You might look out for a different colour each day, working through the rainbow during the course of the week.
After a while you may begin to notice not just these basic colours, but an increasing range of tints and shades and tones and hues. Perhaps you might even find the time to observe these variations within individual objects, identifying them as a still-life painter would.
Okay, I admit, it’s probably a rubbish idea. But why not give it a try and let me know how you get on? Or perhaps you might have a better suggestion for how to recapture a childlike appreciation and enjoyment of colour?
For as we learn to recognise and rejoice in such simple, everyday aspects of the world around us, so, I believe, will we grow in the childlike spirit that similarly recognises and rejoices in the “simple” and “everyday” aspects of our faith.
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