Saturday, July 27, 2013

Welcome to the Gray

Morning came and I was greeted by gray skies. A lot of people don’t like gray skies. They are symbolic of things like sadness, or the absence of love, or of loss. Instead people wish for bright sunlight and pure blueness overhead.

I don’t always feel like that. Sometimes I’m fascinated by the gray. Not always, mind you. I don’t like a sky that is flat and monochromatic (although any decent photographer will tell you that there is beauty to be found in monochrome). The gray sky that captures me is the one that contains multitudes of textures and shadows. The clouds are at their various heights and seem to be holding back secrets and truths.

This is the sky of introspection.

The shades ranging from light gray to steel gray to deepest slate gray remind me of my soul. Most of us come out of a culture that paints things in black and white. We are told by the Powers That Be that life is to be confined to the simplest terms and most convenient definitions. Our side is good. The other side is evil. Our way is right. Someone else’s way is wrong. Be like me and you’ll be free.

The Church and the State have colluded in trying to keep us in line. It’s all black and white, we’re told. There are two kinds of people in the world – us and them. If we don’t want to be like them (the definition of “them” varies with whomever you’re talking to), then you’ve got to be like us.

It’s a lie. It’s just not that simplistic. I’m not just one shade, be it either black or white. As I consider the sky that reflects my heart, I see that I am many shades as well. I’ve lived a lot of years and done a lot of things. I’ve tried to make most of them good things. There are some that weren’t. They are all part of who I am.

Whoever I am today is due in large part to who I was yesterday – and last year and 10 years ago and on and on. Without the textures and shades that make up our past we have no present and cannot make a future. I’ve heard people say that we can forget the past or that the past does not define us. I don’t think that forgetting the past is good advice. There are lessons to be learned and love to be experienced in the past.  While the past doesn’t completely define us, it certainly informs who we are now. To refuse to at least acknowledge that is to lie to ourselves, to others and to God.

Just as important as acknowledging the past, sometimes we have to embrace it. We may not like all of it, but it is who we have been and part of who we are. Like a family member that sometimes make bad choices and still shows up at Thanksgiving, our past visits us and calls upon us to be honest with ourselves. The shades and textures of gray come to bring meaning and perspective to our lives.

I have not always liked who I was. There have been times that I wanted to be something different – someone different. On occasion it is still a struggle. Still, there are the special gray days when I look at the sky and can come to a moment of peace with it all. My soul is not one pure, solid color. It is many shades and textures. Some of them seem to be permanent, at least so far. Some of them come for a while and move on, merging with others to create something new.

What will it be tomorrow? I have no idea. the only sky I have is the sky of today. Tomorrow will bring its own special blend of sun and shadow. I’ll greet tomorrow when it’s here.

Today, I’m watching the clouds.