Reflections of Faith

Reflections of Faith
Lent 36

What color is water? Yesterday we discussed how it often appears blue. Due to the absorption of the red, orange, and yellow color molecules, water will appear blue or green. Clear water is considered safe for drinking although, it is really the water than can move that is truly safe. Wild cats will stir water before they drink it. After all, stagnant water is…well, stagnant. Water unable to move freely is not clean, at least in the wild cat’s opinion.

Color is often confused with race. A person is said to be Caucasian or white in the USA if their heritage is from a European country. This is determined by the sovereignty of the country. For people in the Bahamas, however, this is misleading. Great Britain was the ruler of the Bahamas until rather recently so people from the Bahamas could correctly claim to be of European descent meaning they would be considered “white”, even though most of the population is descended from slaves and therefore of African descent with very dark skin tones. Russians are seldom considered of Asian descent even though Russia is on the continent of Asia. Race and national origin seldom can be definitive markers for the color of one’s skin and yet, for much of the world, the color of one’s skin is a marked characteristic that has in the past and still continues to lead to discrimination and hatred.

Actress and activist Josephine Baker lived much of her life in France and was awarded several honors for helping that country during World War II. An African-American by birth, she was hired as a domestic helper at the age of eight and by the age of thirteen years was homeless, dancing on street corners for her food. Her talents were overshadowed by the color of her skin and she became a French citizen in part because of that. She never gave up on the hope that mankind would one day gain new vision in viewing people. “Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one’s soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood.”

We live in a very colorful world. Nature is a living rainbow of color and diversity. Our vision is often clouded by traditions, scared thinking, and ignorance. Just as certain color molecules are absorbed in water, we have allowed our fears to absorb our ability to be exclusive and have become a world of inclusive cultures and neighborhoods.

Recently a group of school children were offered a free box of crayons. They were offered a choice between a box of all red, a box of all green, a box of all yellow, a box of all blue, a box of all orange, a box of all brown, a box of all purple, and a box of all black. They also had the choice of selecting a regular box of crayons with one each of the eight colors mentioned. Not surprisingly, they all chose the box of all eight colors. Yet, when asked to select a picture of someone they would like to be their neighbor, they all selected someone with the same skin color that they had. We disdain naturally a bland world of all one color so why did the children not want a neighbor with a different skin color?

We will never have a neighbor exactly like ourselves unless we all become twins or triplets, identical in nature, and live next day to that sibling. We could never marry or have children or possibly even pets. After all, everything would have to be identical to our own lives. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? We would never be able to eat something new, buy a different pair of shoes, change the style of our apparel – the list goes on and on. Let’s be honest. That does not sound inviting to anyone! Diversity is what makes our life interesting. The colors of the world give it resonance and interest.

What color is our faith? All spiritualities and religions involve society – our response to it and how we should treat it. “The human family is very diverse, with many different beliefs and cultures and ways of life. Many conflicts in our world are caused when people are intolerant of the ways that others see the world. Learning tolerance is an important cornerstone to creating a better world,” explains Robert Alan Silverstein.

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan echoes that sentiment: “We need to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world. Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic or cultural lines. In each nation, and among all nations, we must work to promote unity based on our shared humanity.”

The palette of the world is a varied one and we see the sacred in its colors when we live with tolerance for all colors. Color cannot cause us fear; teaching that a particular color or nationality is wrong does that. Peace can be achieved when we recognize the sacred in our everyday living. Peace is an attainable goal when we simply live in harmony instead of looking for the clash in life’s colors. Peace is the reflection of faith, of a calm spirit. Love is a multi-hued rainbow that reflects the sacred in our being.

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