When we call someone colorful, we don't mean his skin is purple or puce. We mean his way of life is noticeably unique. He is no run-of-the-mill tree in the forest.
If we feel our lives could use some brightening, however, the literal tree in the forest may furnish some useful hints.
In summer, groves of trees seem to blur into one genus of green foliage. But about this time of year, changes begin to appear. The Aspens' leaves gradually yellow, the maples' redden, and the oaks' burnish orange. Families of trees become distinguished by their stages and degrees of brightening color. We may imagine that mother nature paints the scene, but autumn only brings out a potential already present. A timber management research specialist explains that even while summer is feeding the prominent green chlorophylls which hide autumn colors, the colors are in the leaves. "As autumn approaches," he says, "changes in the length of daylight and cooler temperatures slow food production, and the tree uses up chlorophylls faster than it replaces them. As the chlorophylls decrease, so does the green color. Finally the other pigments that were hidden by the leaf's greenness show through."n1
n1 The Sunday Oklahoman,m October 19, 1980.
Do possibilities for fadeless color inhere in each individual's identity? The Apostle Paul describes a present potential when he urges us to transform our natures, to "put off . . . the old man, . . . and . . . put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."n2 Not be chemical process but by prayer, he implies, "we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."n3
n2Ephesians 4:22, 24.
n3 II Corinthians 3:18.
True, spiritual individuality reflects the nature and essence of magnificent Life itself, God. It is always fully and completely perfect. But we need to understand and demonstrate individuality in all its coruscations, that divine perfection may shine through our lives. We need to express God's nature in purity and love, letting our true selfhood be our only selfhood and not just our Sunday-go-to-meeting pose.
As we better apprehend that God, good, is All-in-all, we are more able to prove what His likeness is. Trees may require lessm light and warmth for coloration, but we require morem light and warmth -- more spiritual illumination and unselfed affection in practicing what we understand -- in order to perfect our possibilities.
The desire to be someone else is a sad substitute for the grand realization of the uniqueness of individuality, the integrity of identity. Material uniformity affords only a false sense of security that, like the autumn leaves, soon fades and falls. But why repeat mistakes and failures by worshiping them through disappointment and self-condemnation, when we can worship God by achieving good now?
Step by step, we can put off the false sense of ego that simultaneously fears to change and fears to stay the same. Christ Jesus showed us the rare colors of implicit obedience to God. He went about doing good, and so can we. He healed the sick -- those sick in body as well as those sick of status quo, sick of their jobs, companions, habits, and surroundings: sick of themselves as delusive material sense suggests mortal selves to be.
We can invoke Christian precepts and be healed. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: "Goodness reveals another scene and another self seemingly rolled up in shades, but brought to light by the evolutions of advancing thought, whereby we discern the power of Truth and Love to heal the sick."n4
n4 Miscellaneous Writings,m pp. 1-2.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thus saith the Lord that created thee, . . . I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. Isaiah 43:1