The story begins on a holiday. I’m fairly certain the holiday was Thanksgiving, and the reason should become clear later in the story. Get in a good reading position; this is a long one but a great story.
We were together with Steve’s sister and her family for the holiday weekend. Our daughter, Shannon, was the oldest of the bunch, around 9 at the time; then came Cameron, about 5; and Jack, still a chubby cheeked lad of 2.
As many parents do, we had prepared well to keep the kids occupied for the weekend. Aside from just general play, and movies, I had found a brand new box of crayons at the discount store. You know the ones – the 128 jumbo box, sectioned off in smaller cartons of 8, waxy smell drifting upward as we tear off the top, each crayola perfectly crafted, yet to be used.
This particular box that I found was special. On the outside, the box advertised a ‘NAME THE CRAYON CONTEST.’ Inside the larger box, one sleeve of the crayons was a white box. The concept was to name the colors in this sleeve, send in your innovative creations, and receive the honor of having ‘named’ one or more crayola crayons. Brilliant move.
Now, I know that recently the coloring craze has been touted as a stress reliever for adults as well as educational and creative play for children (a discovery that I am completely in favor of, by the way). But that research hadn’t been completed at the time of this story. Which is why it was a bit curious that the person most excited about the contest was not our daughter, Shannon (who probably kept crayola in business), but her Uncle Tim.
Since the time our nephew, Cameron, could draw, Tim had been fascinated with coloring, and joined him at every opportunity. We weren’t too surprised that Tim jumped down on the floor with the kids, eager to name the crayons. Pulling out the first one – green – he turned the crayon on its edge, scribbling the color with flair onto a white piece of paper, Tim declared with confidence: “Bent Grass Green.” We were hooked.
He selected the orange one next. Tim, along with Steve and I, were graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and we were certain he’d have the perfect name for the orange hue. Again, a scribble on the page, and another confident declaration: “Sunset Orange.” Amazing.
Finally, Tim pulled out the next crayon, which was a darker shade of purple. We all stared at it, with serious trepidation. Here’s why I’m sure the holiday was Thanksgiving: because Texas and Texas A&M had just played a sports game (I’m assuming football), and A&M had won, with more than a few questionable calls during the game going against our beloved Longhorns. Tim stared at the tip of the crayon; he drew a straight line – no flourishes for this one – and declared, with all the passion he could muster: “Cheaters Maroon.”
Our family loves that story, and we reference it often. It’s one of those inside, legacy stories that will live on in the Sweeney and Host households. Our family passion for coloring hasn’t waned one bit since that time; I can’t seem to part with any of the bits and pieces in our crafts closet.
Earlier this month, I read something new, by author and artist Ingrid Sundberg (www.ingridsundberg.com)
She’s created a Color Thesaurus so that she can name every shade of every color. How brilliant is that? Having reviewed the chart, I’d say she has hit the mark with almost each one (although she could use some of Tim’s creative adjectives for emphasis). I’m amazed at how she’s able to see a distinct difference between, say – ‘ballet slipper’ and ‘lemonade.’ Some people just have a great eye for details like that.
Here’s something I know: God knows those kind of details. God, the creator, who made each of us distinct, and who knows each of us by name. We read from the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 40:26
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens;
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
The same God who created the starry host, created us….with great detail. As we continue in the Lenten season, I urge you to stop and contemplate what God created in you….what is the Holy Spirit calling you to become? More importantly, how will you act upon it?
See, unlike the crayon naming, this isn’t a contest. This is, first and foremost, between you and God. God already knows who you are, what you’ve done, and what you can become. And God is waiting, more than patiently, for you to accept him. What’s stopping you?