Creative projects can teach more than the result of a poem, story or a painting might originally indicate. Yes, they are nice to place on the refrigerator, but they can show us so much more.
In third grade, I remember an art project that was conveniently not only simple but wisely time-consuming. Mrs. Sigler gave us a blank piece of construction paper and asked us to take any number of crayons and to color sections of circles, lines or anything else until the page was filled. We were instructed not to draw any particular thing, but just to fill it all in. I was 9 so I complied.
Then, she asked us to take a black crayon and to cover up the entire previously colored page. Again, I complied but it really seemed silly. When we were all done, she instructed us to take our lead pencils and to use the tip to draw our actual picture by scratching the black crayon coating from the drawing. I drew a butterfly and it revealed a variety of beautiful colors--much more than I could have realized myself and it was especially wonderful against the dark background. I recall being very pleased with my creation.
Upon thinking about this project and passing it on to young family membersóI have seen that the process resulted in more than just a nice butterfly. The process involved some fundamental tools such as crayons, paper, pencil, a leader, and the skill of following instructions in the proper order. Had we not properly filled the blank piece of paper with beautiful color first, we could not have scratched the darkened surface later to reveal its splendor. It illustrated that in order to create beauty in life, we cannot blacken the page first and hope to scratch the surface later to reveal beauty if no beauty was ever laid at the foundation in the first place. In life, you have to scratch beneath the surface of darkness in order to get to the amazing colors that you can only hope have been properly placed underneath. Or, sometimes life itself scratches at the surface and then you get to see what you are really made of. Do we find kind words? Actions that are consistent with your message? Hope? Wisdom? Even the beautiful blue water colors of our oceans can only be revealed with light. Without light, everything just looks black. But this single act revealed that even after the colors have been rolled over by the darkness, you still have the hope of getting to the beauty that we know is underneath if we take the time to color our children.
The process of creating the foundation can be long but the rewards can be more pleasing than you can ever know. The problem is that there arenít enough leaders willing to teach who have been properly colored themselves and therefore, have precious little hope of building the foundations that can endure any number of years of darkness. Amazingly, this project still only takes relatively few items and some time. The sad thing that I have learned these many years later is that if we donít take the time to color the foundation of our children with good and choose instead to darken it with our prejudices and misconceptions, we may never be able to recover any hope of the sense of innocence and beauty that we have all been graced with as we are brought into this world.
God, help us color our children properly and scratch away the layers of darkness that our choices and circumstances have contributed to their plight. And Lord, as we scratch, let it be with light so that we do not create a greater depth of darkness or create a wound when we wish to reveal the colored picture of beauty and hope.