God’s Wondrous Gift of Color

Here in Ohio the trees are bursting with gold, red, and orange—one of the best features of autumn, especially when they are showing their glory against a brilliant blue sky. Sister Barbara Soplata captured the scene above by the Chagrin River.

One of life’s pleasures is driving along a road surrounded by hills and mountains that are clothed in vivid fall foliage. I’ll never forget our ride along Skyline Drive in Virginia. That night in bed visions of its stunning trees replayed in my mind over and over. One fall when I was in Vermont to give a talk, all the hotels were full of leaf-peepers, so I had to stay with a family. The only people who don’t appreciate these glorious leaves are the ones who must rake loads of them.

How fortunate we are that God decided to create colors and design our eyes so that they perceive them!

Imagine if the world were plain black, gray, and white, like the old television shows, early movies, and first photographs. That would be depressing. (Sadly my family owned a colored TV only after I entered the convent.) I remember the excitement of viewing the Wizard of Oz in a theater when this black and white film magically turned into color after Dorothy landed in Oz.  At first we sisters’ habits were limited to the colors black, gray and white. Eventually, thanks to Vatican II, we were free to wear regular clothes of any color.

What is your favorite color? Mine is blue. I believe that’s true for most people. Blue most also be God’s favorite color because most of the world he created is blue:  blue skies, blue oceans, lakes, and rivers. An exception is our food. Even blueberries appear more purple than blue.

Ethereal rainbows dazzle us with their beauty. They comprise the seven basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. (ROY G. BIV) Then consider the many shades each one of those colors has. For example, take blue. There’s navy, aqua, cerulean, turquoise, powder blue, baby blue, midnight blue, cobalt. One website names ninety-nine shades of blue! Scientists tell us that humans can see ten million colors. Still, some creatures, like birds and butterflies, can detect more colors that we can.

God was extravagant with color when he designed creatures. All flowers could have been red. Instead, gardens teem with a variety of hues. All birds could have been brown. But they range from the brilliant cardinal to the soft gray of the mourning dove. Then too, there are multicolored birds like some parrots.

As a child you might have been fascinated with colors. I remember progressing from Crayola boxes of eight crayons to a marvelous sixty-four choices. I spent hours coloring pictures between the lines. And paints! How many paint-by-number pictures kept me busy!

When I was moving into one convent, my room was to be painted. I was told it would be wedding cake white just like the rest of the rooms. How dull! Surprisingly, I was asked to choose a color. Naturally I chose powder blue.

You probably know that colors affect our moods. Cool colors—blues, greens, and pale purples— are calming. But pity the poor teacher whose classroom’s walls are red or orange.

One creative activity that English teachers assign is to write a poem that has a color as a theme. You might try your hand at this. You might even write it in the form of a prayer.

Thank God for colors! I wonder what colors we’ll see in heaven.

• What is your favorite memory of autumn? Of leaves? Of colors?

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