I see people in colors. Not skin colors like black or brown or pink though I see these too. Instead, I see their inside colors – a kind of inner glow – or a quality of spirit, an intention, maybe a mood. I can see this kind of color even better with my eyes closed. I do not yet understand what to make of this capacity. But, let these things be for now and suspend your doubt.
Consider, instead, the story of Kenneth whom I stumbled upon mid-way through my morning rounds a few weeks ago. He had tucked himself behind a big, dented trash can that hot-headed kids often kicked when they got tagged out during kickball games. Most days I did not go as far as that side of the playground. Why this particular day, I do not know.
When I found him, he had little in the way of color – a gloomy gray-green. He had wrapped his thin arms around baggie-jeaned knees and curled into a kind damp ball. Long blond hair hung over his face leaving only his left eye, looking right into mine, green, liquid. His silence in response to my what-are-you-doing-out-here question showed me he didn’t want to be found, nor to speak. So, I stood next to him, and whistled a soft Irish tune.
Then his teacher barreled around the corner, planting her heels in the grit and establishing an eye lock with the cringing boy. She spoke -Kenneth, you are a better boy than this. Is this the best choice? Now I know you know what to do – She said all the right words, straight from a teacher’s handbook, but her words didn’t match her color. Did she mean what she said? Had she quit on this kid already?
She turned to go and he stood up, shuffling after her as the unlikely duo re-entered the building and ascended the concrete steps. I stood puzzling over what I had just witnessed. The exchange knocked me back to my grade school years, where the boy in me stood at the feet of his teacher, confused, hearing the soft twisted warble of a thousand cuts, wishing the red back into his veins.
When I came to, I resumed my rounds along the edge of the yard. What came to me in my reverie was a simple truth – that things which occur on the outside will find their way in. The reverse is also true. I may see these truths as colors, but everyone sees truth in some form or another as it conveys itself from the deep inside of one to the hidden heart of another.
Some day, I will have insights in a more timely way. I’ll see the pearls laying in wait, ready to be snagged. I won’t look backward asking what I should have said or should have done. In such a yet-to-be moment, thought and act will splash my sky in one rich stroke – painting a bright stripe that requires no further explanation.