Kaleidoscope of Color
by Dale Reeves
Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty wrote a lament in the October 11, 2020, edition of the local paper. He was upset that their family’s three-year-old cat Dylan went outside their house and never returned. “Doc” says in this column that he doesn’t care for the fall season, as he put it, it is a . . .
“Season of amazing beauty that never equals the profound sadness it provokes. . . . Fall is an old man preparing for bed. Fall asks us to take off our slippers and our anticipations and pull the comforter over our heads. . . . I hear winter telling me to buck up for what’s about to go down. Fall’s colors are nothing but a beautiful deception.”
Doc goes on to say that one of the reasons he doesn’t care for autumn is because his mother died in the fall when he was only eight years old. And, so it was fitting for the family cat to disappear and never come back (perhaps taken by a coyote) during this season that he describes as “an untimely end.”
I respect Paul’s opinion, but I beg to differ with him. Maybe it’s because my birthday is in September, and we have three family members and a close friend who all share the same birthday in October, and all three of our grandsons have autumn birthdays, as well as my wife and our two daughters. There are always lots of celebrations around our house this time of year! I love the smell of burning leaves and ornamental grasses that I offer up every fall as a fragrant aroma. I love pumpkin patches, and pumpkin bread, pumpkin carving, and pumpkin roll, and practically pumpkin spice anything.
A Golden Season
Wise King Solomon wrote, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, NLT).
One of the reasons that my wife and I love traveling during this harvest season is that we enjoy meandering through scenic country roads, national and state parks, as we take our time, take hundreds of photos of the amazing foliage, and as we breathe deeply the fresh air. I love the sun shining on the trees in the late afternoon just before sunset—that magical time that photographers refer to as the “golden hour.”
We have been fortunate to travel to the upper peninsula of Michigan; experience the beauty of the fall leaves and covered bridges in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine; and soak in all the majesty of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway that runs from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia down to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. We’ve relished the beauty of our Creator’s artistry as he paints deciduous trees and shrubs an amazing array of marigold yellow, amber orange, burgundy red, burnt sienna, and brandywine. Set against the backdrop of the evergreens, these brilliant pigments place God’s glory on display for all to see.
As I witness this exhibition of lovely bursts of color every autumn the image of a kaleidoscope comes to mind. According to Webster’s dictionary, this word is derived from two Greek words—kalos, which means “beautiful,” and eidos, which means “form” or “fashion.” God’s beautiful fashion in creation in full display. Did you ever own a kaleidoscope as a kid? It was an instrument that contained loose bits of colored glass or plastic between two flat plates and two plane mirrors. As you turned the kaleidoscope in your hands, and looked into the tube, each time you changed the position of the bits of material, you saw a unique reflection revealing an endless variety of patterns. Among the definitions for kaleidoscope in the dictionary are these: “A variegated changing pattern or scene; a diverse collection.”
One of my favorite songs, “Colored People,” was recorded by dc Talk in 1995. How appropriate its lyrics still are for our culture and nation today. The second verse says:
“A piece of canvas is only the beginning
for it takes on character with every loving stroke;
this thing of beauty is the passion of an Artist’s heart.
By God’s design, we are a skin kaleidoscope.
We’ve gotta come together, aren’t we all human after all?
We’re colored people, and they call us the human race;
We’re colored people, and we all gotta share this space;
Yeah, we’ve got to come together somehow.”
These lyrics speak of racial equality and all men, women, and children—regardless of color—being made by the same God with his creative streak. And, just as he expects the trees he created with many different shades to share their space together, so he expects those whom he fashioned on the sixth day of creation to live together in harmony.
James, the Lord’s brother, tells us: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7, 8, NIV).
Just as autumn is a harbinger of what is to come in winter, and after that the spring rains, so when we think of autumn, we are reminded of the Lord’s coming back to earth one day. A farmer patiently waits for his bountiful harvest to come in season, and in the same way someday we can rest assured that Jesus will return to claim his bride, his faithful followers who have endured until the end. And when Jesus returns in the clouds it will be even more glorious than the autumn leaves at their peak.
Jesus calls us to live in harmony with our brothers and sisters of all different races, backgrounds, and hues. What we are doing now is a dress rehearsal for the worship experience we will enjoy for all eternity in Heaven. And if we want to be ready for that, we need to know that his messianic kingdom looks like this:
“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9, 10, NLT).
Diversity unified under the blood-stained cross of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And, note what they are doing. They are giving praise and honor to Him who sits on the throne.
Emulating God’s Creative Display
When I savor the beautiful array of colors swaying in the cool breeze of the autumn wind, I am reminded of what Isaiah the prophet foretold:
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12, NIV).
This season gives us many reasons to pause in gratitude for all of God’s many blessings and provisions through the year—especially this one! Autumn calls us to slow down, reflect on the summer, look forward to the future, but be present in the now before we launch into the Christmas season and New Year at breakneck speeds. Before you know it, this season is gone.
My prayer for you this autumn is that you may bask in the glory that God has set before us, and that you may emulate God’s creative kaleidoscope as it bursts with praise for its loving Creator. And, may we as his church demonstrate nothing but love for the varied and diverse kaleidoscope of colorful human beings he has put on this planet to know, love, and praise him.