My third grade teacher, 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 in all the spaces.† I was nine, so I complied.
Then, she asked us to take our black crayon and to cover up†the entire previously colored page.† Again, I complied but it really seemed silly.† When we finished, 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---many more than I could have imagined---and it was especially wonderful against the dark background.† I recall being very pleased with my creation. But, this project has taught me an important lesson beyond a classroom project.
In order to create beauty in life, we cannot first blacken the page and then hope to scratch the surface to reveal beauty. If no beauty was ever laid at the foundation in the first place, there will be no amazing colors to reveal. You can only hope that the colors have been properly placed underneath.
Since life itself sometimes scratches at the surface, you get to see what you are really made of.† Do we find kind words? Actions that are consistent with our 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 imagine.† 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 reveal any hope of the sense of innocence and beauty that we have all been graced with as we are brought into this world.
(For copies of this version, please contact me via email and I will provide details to obtain the published booklet in which this version appears.)