Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Light, Darkness, and Rainbows

Rainbows have always delighted me--from the expansive arcs appearing in a soft summer shower, to the subtle flashes trapped in the spray of a lawn sprinkler. I spent long moments as a child observing colors swirling on dishwater bubbles and in greasy puddles, as well as the brilliant shades thrown against my mother's bedroom wall when the morning sun hit her crystal prism.

Like a kitten chasing a laser pointer, I would try to "catch" the rainbows in my palm. Sometimes the colors were compact, like candy drops. But when they struck at an angle, they would elongate, the colors stretching or even breaking off from the rest altogether.

Until recently, though, I never thought of myself as a rainbow.

Growing up in Christianity, I was taught to see personal character in binary terms: darkness or light. In the words of the King James Bible, the "works of the flesh" were opposed to the "fruits of the spirit". Goodness came off as monochromatic, like a black-and-white movie, hues varied only by the degree to which we demonstrated the expected qualities of godliness. (But at least it was Light. The Prince of Darkness was evil personified. We feared inadvertently falling under his power. In God the Father, we were told, there was no darkness at all.)

In the IBLP cult, we invited people close to us to rate our character according to Gothard's coveted 49 qualities. We were encouraged to tell our friends about their weak points (euphemistically called "blind spots", because we assumed they must be unaware of their flaws) and ever sought to attain a higher "score" for ourselves, approaching closer to pure goodness. I've long since ditched Gothard's ideals as the mere preferences of an immoral predator, but that sense of seeking some kind of perfection has persisted in my subconscious.

Lately, just as I've begun to understand simultaneous conflicting emotions as expressing different faces of my personality, I'm also seeing that personality as a colorful rainbow.

For years I've cherished my own glass prism, looking forward to the times of the year when the sun reaches the right angle to stream in our front windows. The swinging crystal splits the light apart and sends it dancing around the room in drops of vivid color. Sometimes I still try to catch them on my hand.

Like the sunlight, I am made up of a spectrum of colors. I am neither goodness nor corruption. I am sparking with the energy of dozens of dancing rainbows. I am red and blue and green and gold and every shade between. Perhaps it took the complex new angles and emotional fracturing I've experienced this year to expose more of my "facets" and untangle the spectrum.

I have a "warm" side and a "cool" one. I am fire and ice, curiosity and caution, passion and compassion.The colors have always been there, but now that I see them in consistent patterns--always displayed in relation to one another--they are far easier to understand. None defines me, but all express me. I'm not trying to attain a moral ideal, only trying to learn how to let my own unique light "shine" in ways that don't harm anyone else.

Still--for my first real Halloween party, I left the rainbows to the rest of my family. I wore the color that never shows up in a rainbow. The color that represents Darkness, which we feared above all and warned ourselves about while reciting in unison the spooky words of Jesus: "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"

Reveling in a new appreciation of all the shades of my character...

...I wore black. :)

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