It’s the Reverse-Coloring for Me

By: Rebecca Garrett Pace
July 26, 2023

In the last several months, I’ve discovered not one but two very important milestones in the human evolution of Adult Coloring Books. The first is Sticker-by-Number Books. You can sticker birds, butterflies, dragons, frogs, dinosaurs, puppies, kittens, flowers, and inspirational quotes. You can get them in easy cubes, or in wild geometric and angular shapes that are so intricate you need tweezers to complete it. I may or may not have approximately seven of these books in my possession currently.

The second, of which I currently have none but am wildly interested in procuring, is called “Reverse Coloring Books,” which provide the colors but no lines or forms. Big splashes of pastels, jewel tones, neons, and gray scales. Tiny dots of colors bunched together with vast areas of negative space. You decide whether that page full of buttery yellow shades is going to be a field of sunflowers or a tray of lemon bars. You decide whether that sweep of blue is the ocean or the cosmos. I don’t think I can overstate how very much I need one of these books, like, yesterday.

This Sunday, we will finish up our summer series “Recoloring the Bible: Children’s Bible Stories All Grown Up,” and I think it’s fair to say that we’ve spent the summer doing a lot of our own sticker-by-numbering and reverse-coloring. We’ve started with a story we thought we knew by heart, like Daniel and the Lion’s Den, and we’ve examined it from King Darius’ perspective instead of Daniel’s. We’ve taken a story that we may have deemed played out or old hat, like Adam and Eve, and we’ve discovered something new about God’s companionship and grace among us. Will this splash of gold be King Darius’s crown or the mane of a lion? Will these dots of green be untamed vines in Eden, or the fig leaves God hand-sewed together to take care of the dusty humans in the garden?

Likewise, the music and liturgy each Sunday have, I hope, been chances for each of us to both color and recolor our experiences with the sacred in our lives. The choir sang “Yesu Kwetu ni Rafiki” together with the familiar western hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and the medley led us into a new understanding of God as friend. Ben and I played one of Ben’s very own songs, “Not Complicated” and the tongue-in-cheek nature of the song full of complex words, chords, and rhythms opened up a world that is, indeed, very complicated. We listened to Ryan play the beautiful and lyrical “Scaramouche” by Milhaud on saxophone, and Sean sing his heart out on “Any Dream Will Do” from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Lauren bring to life arrangements of children’s songs like “This Little Light of Mine,” and we were invited to dream together about all the ways the sacred and the secular combine and meld and mix in our lives like bright colors on a page.

The fall semester is starting soon, and with it will come all manner of new, old, and in-between things. New challenges at work and school. Old friends we haven’t seen for weeks. Bittersweet endings of great vacations and relief (maybe? someday?? hopefully???) from the oppressive heat. May we enter this new fall chapter inspired by the creativity we discovered this summer to take an old story and sticker or reverse-color it in new ways. May we hear the beautiful voice of God singing both Charles Wesley and Amos Lee. May we know that we are co-creators with a very creative, colorful God.

So may it ever be.

1 Comment

Laura Garrett - July 27th, 2023 at 8:45pm

Beautiful. as is the writer. Thank you for your faithful witness even when you're bone-weary.