Monday Memo: Tie Dyed

Terry Walton



I was thinking...

There are family traditions and then there are Family Traditions. For several years while away on vacation our entire family tie-dyed t-shirts. The youngest to the oldest do their creative best to splash a colorful memory on the annual t-shirt. I suspect many of you have had this experience where you roll a t-shirt into various clumps using rubber bands and then apply various colors throughout the t-shirt. As Forrest Gump would say, it’s “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” The unveiling of each person’s shirt when unrolled and unwrapped is full of wonder and awe.

We seem to be into colors these days. Politically and ideologically, we are categorized as either red or blue. However, if you happen to be categorized as purple (combination of red and blue), then you are known as wishy-washy. Purple categorizes a person as wanting to have it both ways. Then someone is quick to point out that ‘you can’t have it both ways’. People who are red or blue will say to someone who is leaning in a purple direction that they must choose a side. They will be told that if you walk down the middle you are likely to get hit from both sides. Isn’t it interesting how colors have become a new metaphor for winners and losers?

And then there is the rainbow, which is full of vibrant colors and originates as a sign of the covenant between God and Noah. Nowadays it serves as a beautiful symbol of LGBTQA+ inclusion. It also holds a special meaning for anyone who has been on an Emmaus walk. The Emmaus movement, from the Upper Room of the United Methodist Church, grew out of the Catholic Cursillo movement, which is a program to reinvigorate the spiritual lives of leaders of the church. There are three stalwart symbols of Emmaus: the rainbow, the rooster, and the song ‘De Colores’. The rainbow, of course, represents God’s biblical covenant promise with God’s people. The rooster and the song come from an old story where a group of persons in Mexico were returning home from a Cursillo retreat. The antiquated bus in which they were riding broke down in the middle of farm country. While waiting for help to arrive the passengers noticed the brightly colored feathers of roosters in a barnyard bordering the road. Inspired, they came up with a 100-verse song which was later entitled “De Colores”.

It is true that color inspires, but when it is used to isolate, categorize, or judge another, then color becomes bleak and dark. When color is used to celebrate, invigorate, or inspire, then it is as I believe God intended, a beautiful gift. When color is used as God intended, then God is pleased, but when color is ‘hijacked’ for demeaning purposes, God’s heart breaks.

We really are a tie-dyed world. We are not all or none. We are not all the same stripe or color. I passionately believe God created this world, this country, this church to be a place that is ‘e pluribus Unum’ (out of many one). Being one does not mean identical. Being one means similar. We are similar in our need to be loved, accepted, and valued. We are different in how that is experienced and offered.

One of the most popular words in heaven is going to be “Oh!” We are going to be surprised at the colorful beauty of the tie-dyed heavenly community. We are going to be surprised at how God’s love reigns over all God’s creation. We will hear ourselves and others saying as we round each corner “Oh! You are here!” While others will say to me (and maybe you too) “Oh! You are here, too!”

I love that line in Jesus’ prayer “Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” On earth as it is in heaven…  May it be so. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Always Thinking…

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop

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