I have been enamored of late looking at the space ship photos of the demoted planet, Pluto. Admittedly just getting to Pluto is a remarkable feat for our NASA space program. However as a kid I had already landed on Pluto, Mars and Venus with my box of crayons and manila construction paper. I even met a couple of Martians where I landed.
All of us remember our first box of crayons; the smell of a new box of crayons, the texture of the construction paper or coloring book that we began coloring. If you were lucky you got the “Big O Box” of 64 or more “Crayola” crayons with the sharpener built inside the box. Then there were these amazing names of colors found in the box of crayons, besides the primary colors of the eight crayon box. We never realized there were so many kinds of oranges, reds, blues and greens than ever before. We were all curious how fire engine red was different from brick red, or how sky blue was different from sea blue. Some of us were even luckier if we had access to finger paints. We could put our hands arms and bodies into the pasty colors.
In our hands, our crayons and paints took us to the far corners of the universe without a space ship. There was no limit to whatever our childlike minds could imaginatively draw. We drew pictures with our crayons and made stick people, houses, pets, friends and the most important mom and dad. For some of us as seniors we take our coloring to new artful spheres like painting, quilts and knitting perhaps. I am reminded of the nephew who wrote a thank you letter to his aunt for having knit him a sweater for Christmas. The thank you letter went like this:
“Dear Auntie, Oh, what a nice sweater. I’ve always adored powder blue and fancy you thinking of orange and pink for the stripes. How clever of you. And the handmade socks, the same that you wear. So you must be the last word in style and I’m certain you’re right that the luminous green will make me stand out a mile.”
Now that I am much older I am curious about what pictures do God draw with His crayons, we who volunteer ourselves willingly to be one of his crayons. St. Augustine said without us He will not and without Him we cannot!” God’s various crayon colors come in many varieties. God loves diversity. The crayons of God are the married, unmarried, the healthy and the sick, the hetero sexual and the homosexual, the straight and the trans gender, the rich and the poor, the Democrat and the Republican, the Capitalist and the Socialist, the in vitro and the natural born, the employed and the un-employed, the able bodied and the disabled, the homeless and the home filled, the young and the old and the middle aged, the catholic, the protestant, the Jew, the Buddhist and the Islamist. All are being used by God to draw the pictures He desires,
But all these crayons are the colorful front face of things to all of us but to God, only He knows the hearts and minds of His crayons. Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
God has broken crayons in His box. In the book of Wisdom it is written, “They neither keep life nor marriage undefiled: but one kills another by envy or grieves him by adultery. And all things are mingled together, blood, murder, theft and dissimulation, corruption and unfaithfulness, tumults and perjury, disquieting of the good; forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature, disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleanness.”
This is humanity–crayons in the hand of God. It is humanity in struggle between goodness and badness as the pages of life are being drawn upon. Behind it and within it Christ is forming the new humanity, re-born and re-made in Him.
What is Christ forming? Christ is forming His family. The foundation is the apostles and prophets on which we are built and the corner stone is Christ himself. Ephesians 2:18-21 The second thing Christ is forming are mature individuals (Ephesians 4:13) who truly love to be in God’s presence drinking in the experience over anything else in their lives in order to quench what every man thirst for is the everlasting fountain that quenches thirst. We were made for the infinite and that is why we will never be happy or satisfied unless we are part of the infinite. St. Augustine said that we are restless until we rest in Him. I draw out of God’s crayon box two of His.
St. Lawrence is an interesting crayon of God. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the church and the distribution of alms to the poor. He was going to be arrested for his faith and the Roman authorities thought that the church the was rich. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”
Lawrence replied that the church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the church.”
The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared, with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!” Likely St. Lawrence could be the patron of BBQ’s or Outback steak house. Such is the faith and joyful surrender to the will of God.
Another crayon of light in God’s crayon box, is St. Joseph Cupertino. He is the patron of aviators and dumb seminarians. It is said that Joseph was so exuberant in his chapel prayer life that he would float and monks would have to hold him down. Joe struggled academically throughout his seminarian training to the point that the rector of the seminary said, “Joseph, you are a complete ass!” Cupertino did not miss the challenge. He replied, “Look what God did with Samson and the jaw bone of an ass. (Samson killed an entire army of Philistines with the bone.) Can you imagine what God will do with a complete ass?”
There is nothing sad about these champion saints. Their spirits are filled with God so much that they can find humor in their challenging situations. When we are God’s crayon filled with Him we too can be joyful about the picture of life that we are drawing and being drawn by Him. Joyful surrender is the true sign of a saint. Some say it is making lemonade out of lemons. I see it as more than that-perhaps as much as whiskey sour drunk on the Spirit of God.
When we surrender our wills to God and become his crayons then we can go to places and to times never thought of before. Sometimes God colors within the lines with people who are traditional and conservative. Sometimes God colors outside the lines, with people who are not traditional and not conservative. When either becomes God’s crayons and allow Him to color with us then the pictures drawn have no judgments and impatience. Impertinences are non-existence, because we allow God to be God and He does not draw junk whether the pictures are pretty or not. Like a good father or mother God showers praise on our drawings presented to Him. They may not be perfect drawings, Picasso or a Van Gogh but they are our drawings inspired by Him if we let Him.
When God draws with us we eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep us firm to the end and blameless. (St. Paul 1 Corinthians 1.) Allow God to be one of His crayons and board His space ship as the Psalmist muses while on board, “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
To me Dante succinctly expresses our drawing in God’s hand and stellar destiny with His Son, Jesus Christ!
The Divine Comedy finishes with Dante seeing the Triune God. In a flash of understanding that he cannot express, Dante finally understands the mystery of Christ‘s divinity and humanity, and his soul becomes aligned with God’s love:
But already my desire and my will were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed, by the Love which moves the sun and the other stars.