The box was a golden yellow and bright bold green. It had a neat, stiff container and a hinged, flip-open lid. The word “CRAYOLA” was blazoned across the front of it, and inside were sixty-four sharpened, paper-wrapped crayons for coloring. There was a built -in sharpener, for when the crayons’ points began to wear down with constant and steady use.
For a long time, crayons only came in ordinary packs of eight, but t was sometime during my elementary years some crayon genius came up with the idea if eight crayons was good, just think how much better eight times eight would be! I remember how I longed for that sixty-four ox of crayons that went way past primary colors with choices like periwinkle and olive green, and silver and bronze. After seeing sixty-four possibilities, coloring with eight crayons was agony!
Then one Christmas, Santa brought me a box. Sixty-four beautiful crayons with points perfectly aligned in their neat section, with spotless paper wraps, not yet torn down for shading purposes. I even loved the smell of the wax that wafted up when the box top was opened: strong, solid, and familiar.
But I must be honest, there were colors, I never used. While the crayon makers didn’t limit me, my own choices did. I never liked raw sienna much, and I didn’t even like to use silver. These stayed sharp. Others did too. I had my favorites as I gravitated toward them again and again. I never really explored or exhausted the full range of possibilities in my sixty-four-crayon box. While it’s possible, even though I have mostly outgrown coloring, I will probably never outgrow my tendency to only use only a certain number of colors that feel safe and comfortable.
However, Jesus made it clear that he came to give us an unlimited, multi-hued life. Jesus said, “ I came so they can have real and eternal life.”(John 10:10). But sometimes I don’t quite know what to do with that kind of freeing promise. When life rushes me, and at me with all the clamor and noise, I sometimes just run for cover and the comfort of my favorite “eight.”
I am not quite sure what to do with the passion of “hot magenta,” the stress of “chartreuse,” or the insistent joy of “ultra-pink.” So, I remove them from my box of options. “Indian red” makes me feel jumpy and lavender, moody, so I toss them out as well. Dark blue is too stiff and mulberry, too sweet so out they go and my box gets leaner and leaner. My multi-hued palate of options is diminished. My colors no longer contrast or complement each other.
But Jesus would not have it so. He wants to keep our box of sixty-four filled, even while I am so busy emptying it. God in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit makes sure we are endowed with a sixty-four crayon life as we color our world and wearing down every last one, only for the crayons to be sharpened again and again, to keep coloring my life, before I am done.
Maybe its time we pull out that "raw sienna," or "hot magenta," and "chartreuse," coloring our world what is possible, not with what we feel comfortable and safe. What colors will you use this week?
See you Sunday! Blessings, Fr. Bill+