That was Little c's line in the church children's musical, Oh Jonah! Ten years ago, Big C was in the very same musical and he spoke the very same line. (Thank you Michael R., for giving me that gift...so precious to a mother!)
Last year, Michael and I began rehabbing the small 1940’s cape cod style house that we moved to not long before Big C was born. We no longer live there but we still own the house as rental property. I remember that there were many (scary) exciting things about making the transition from renter to owner. The thing I found most exciting was the freedom...freedom to dig up (most of) the grass out back and plant a (huge) flower and vegetable garden...freedom to rip up the carpet and expose the (mostly) lovely hardwood...freedom to remove the (hideous) dining room light fixture. All that freedom was pretty intoxicating.
The most intoxicating bit, as I recall, was the freedom to live without white walls. Most landlords don’t mind if you paint but they usually ask that you stick to a neutral palette...you are good to go as long as the paint you choose is called bright white, soft white or off white.
As new homeowners, we gave ourselves permission to go, as my grandmother used to say, "hog wild and pig crazy" with color. The names of the paints were as interesting as the colors themselves....”Lemon Meringue” yellow on the living room walls, “Miss Scarlett” raspberry in the dining room, “Hydrangea” periwinkle in our bedroom, “Moss” green on the walls of the nursery and “Robin’s Egg” blue on the ceiling. The only room that remained white was the kitchen. White was the necessary and perfect backdrop for the riot of color displayed in our Fiestaware pottery collection.
We lived in that house for eight years and we never tired of the colors...we touched up the walls from time to time but we never went “neutral” even when color, according to decorating magazines, seemed to go "out" for a time and neutrals definitely in.
And then we moved. The home we moved to (and still live in today) had been prepared for the market by being freshly painted various shades of bright white, soft white, and something called “antique” white, aka “off white.” I was getting my import antique business up and running and was traveling a great deal. Michael and I were both working very long hours. Big C began kindergarten and all the activities that come with it and we found ourselves very short of time and, looking back, perhaps a little short on imagination. We left most of the white walls alone except for slapping a neutral shade on the walls of the living room, dining room, stairwell and upstairs hallway.
One day, not long after we moved in, a friend/client was visiting and she made an offhand remark...something about our colorful collection of Fiestaware “not going” with our new house. She suggested we replace it with a set of plain white pottery for every day. So we moved the colorful Fiesta, collected over many years, to a cupboard in the basement and bought a lovely but decidedly plain white ironstone.
Fast forward nearly a decade to last summer. Friends from the spiritual direction training program I am participating in are coming for a visit. Having broken our plain white tea pitcher and lacking time to shop for a replacement, I unearthed one of the Fiestaware pitchers stored in the basement even though in my mind, it still really “doesn’t go.”
When my friend saw the pitcher, she gasped. “Oh, look at your Fiesta! That color has been retired!” she exclaimed. Really? I had no idea. I asked if she’d like to see the rest of it. I remember escorting her down the steps to my old house basement (mind your head!), opening the cabinet doors and standing with her...staring at the stacks and stacks of colorful pottery. “Why is it down here?” she asked.
“I thought it didn’t go....”
“Why did you think that?”
“I have no idea....”
Something happened that day. I am not sure exactly what or why but something began to shift for me.
Color began to return to our home, beginning with the Fiesta dishes. Here they are...happy in our kitchen cabinet...ready for everyday use. When Big C saw them, he exclaimed, “Oh, I remember these bowls! We had these when I was little! I LOVE these bowls.”
A few days later, we were sitting in our living room with the neutral walls. Michael looked around and asked, “What is the name of this color?”
“Is that who we are? Are we Beige Chiffon?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I think we should paint this room Lemon Meringue!”
“I think we should do it...today!”
The shift continued....color began finding it’s way back into our home through many avenues.
The front door got a makeover...Moss Green #5 replaced Beige Chiffon. (Yes, Beige Chiffon had also overtaken the OUTSIDE of our home!)
I loved my shower curtain at the time but still...it went from this (Ballard Designs):
to this (Garnet Hill):
We replaced our worn, brown couch with a bright blue one and
when we discovered this fun, vintage RED easy chair at a local thrift shop, we relocated our vintage brown French club chair to Michael's work space.
Life has certainly become more colorful. Certain there is an important spiritual lesson in play, I have mentioned it to a few close friends. Something’s shifting...something’s changing...I don’t know exactly what it is and I sure don’t know what it means but I am aware of it.
And then a few weeks ago, in a big hurry, I ran into our local Target to grab some warm weather clothes for little C and was stopped in my tracks by this banner.
Yes, God speaks to you and me!
As I reflect on this year long “return to color” I believe it is ripe with spiritual lessons and insights and I know that, if I am mindful and pay attention, in good time...in God’s time...they will be revealed to me.
I believe God speaks to us in many different ways....through our dreams...in conversations with strangers...junk mail....nature, song lyrics and banners hanging in discount department stores.
God speaks to you and me.
And sometimes, God uses colorful language!