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Rev. Katy Sundararajan is the Th.M. Program Administrator and International Student Advisor at Western Theological Seminary, and partners with her husband as an RCA missionary with Audio Scripture Ministries. She continues filling in for Tom here at The Twelve.
I’m usually kind of half-hearted about trends, but recently the adult coloring trend had peaked my interest. As Spring Break approached, I was optimistic that I might find a wee bit of time to test out this seemingly quiet, creative trend. Before our travels began I hauled the kids over to the craft store so we could all pick out a nice travel-friendly craft. (I felt super trendy leaving the store as our bag contained not only my beautiful, new adult coloring book and some fresh colored pencils, but some Shopkins and Starwars related items for the kids.)
It was a couple more days before I cracked the spine on my pristine coloring book and spilled the colored pencils across the table in my quiet, sunny spot, but it felt truly exhilarating to leaf through those blank, white pages and chose a place to start. I noticed that there is actually a written introduction at the beginning of my coloring book. It asks the question, “Why adult coloring books?” And the answers points readily to coloring as a proven stress-reducer and a way to relax. There is also the pure love of coloring that many adults left by the wayside as they past their elementary years. Many a babysitter, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or mom’s BFF has relished the moments they get to spend coloring alongside a toddler in their life. It is a simple pleasure, captured and trending its way through a myriad of adult coloring books of many assorted themes. I skimmed the introduction to my coloring book and felt properly justified at having turned to the hobby for all the appropriate reasons. I am just as stressed as the next person, and I really do like to color.
At first it was just calming to fill in the spaces between the lines with pretty wisps and blocks of color. There is a mesmerizing gait to coloring, rubbing your pencil back and forth within a particular outline. There is a nice, gentle scratching sound. If you are lucky, the sun will add an extra glow to your paper, and you might be able to hear a bird chirping somewhere or the happy hum of children’s voices playing nearby. How could coloring make everything seem so right with the world?
When you color in this way, you really cannot rush. If you do it will either ruin your mood or your picture. Instead, coloring is about stillness and attentiveness, two things that don’t come easily in today’s striving, effervescent world. By default or demand, I am a mover and a striver. I am a mom. I could say just that, but moms often wear a lot of hats and titles that broaden the meaning of the word to something akin to mover and striver. It was good for me to sit and color. I did not rush. I was still and attentive.
After some time, I recognized that my meandering thoughts had become more focused as they made their way around the blades of grass and the flowers petals in my picture. Each new piece of the picture required careful meditation as I chose which part I would color, and which color I would use. I tried to think about how the various colors would look together, and how the small portion I intended to color would fit with the bigger picture, and most importantly I thought about how to make the picture beautiful. Someone else may have drawn the outlines, but I was bringing them to life. This was creation.
I kept thinking about our creator God. I thought a lot about God designing creation, bringing it to fullness of life with the intricacy of color. I imagined God not only making grass green, but creating green in a thousand hues. My box of colored pencils only contains three shades of green, but each new blade, or leaf, or stem that I came across in the picture required a decision about what kind of green I should use. What would be most beautiful? God got to decide about the beauty around us. God was the artist that designed all of earth, sky, and sea, calling the colors into existence and making some things blue and others red, or green. God did that.
I found that as I colored, I became more and more inspired. Choosing one particular color for a petal would prompt me to think about the next petal, the next flower, or even the fish with bright scales that I had glimpsed on another page. It seems that creation must inspire further creation. I see why there are so many colors in the great, wide earth and so much diversity, because once creation has begun it inspires the next part of creation to be filled in beautifully as well.
I’m dying to know when God thought about the color of the tiger’s stripes. Were the stripes because of the marigolds? When did God determine the color of the toucan’s beak? Don’t you think it pops with the color of daffodil? And, as God made the plants and the birds, and the animals in all of their thrilling color, did God think about people? When did God decide that eyes would be different colors, the color of water and stone, and brown bear fur? Did the sunlight inspire blond hair? Why are teeth white? How in the world did God come up with freckles, spotted deer, and peacock feathers? And when was it that God decided skin would be different colors? Again, was it after the diversity of greens, or was it because of the veritable plethora of flower petal hues? One choice after the next, God never stuck with one color. God tinted the world with such a vast and varied vibrance.
There must have been such delight in dreaming up colors. I say that from experience, sitting in a quiet sunny spot with my coloring book, during a wee patch of time, on vacation. Oh, the time that our creator God must have spent musing it all into being.
I am grateful.