Purple or green? Purple. But which purple: orchid, lavender, violet…definitely orchid. Selecting the pencil, I begin to fill in the chosen space, relishing the joy of watching color spread and fill the emptiness. Soon the pigments swirl across the page, filling the vacant slices of the pattern, and as the hues unfold and soften the starkness of the black and white page, the edges of my soul begin to loosen. The focus and deliberation of choosing colors and the repetition of coloring have unbound me, have freed me from the thoughts and worries that chain my mind; the emptiness of my busyness, anxieties, and preoccupations fade into lime and cerulean and canary.
It is mindfulness. It is play. It is spiritual.
The mind needs a place of focus in order to return to balance; the soul needs to play and delight in order to breathe. Adult coloring books may seem silly or over-popular, but the release found in giving one’s self over to the pigments, to the patterns, to the act of coloring is far from silly. To pick each pencil with deliberation and delight, to embrace the nothingness and something-ness of the activity with a whole heart and mind is refreshing- and sometimes a bit of a challenge. But after a page- or two- my mind moves to a new place because it has been calmed, the cares have lightened, and I find a new space for the spiritual. In that place, I meet God. A conversation begins to unfold as the colors move across the page because there is nothing else here to distract, no other anxieties that tether, no busyness that tugs. The repeating motion of the pencil on the paper is enough to keep my mind rested and focused in a way that is difficult to find at other times. And when finally I come to the end of the page, and I begin to close the conversation, I look down with a smile.
A splash of bright colors spread across the page. A splash of joy and grace spread into my soul.
The Rev. Melinda Hall is vicar of Church of Our Saviour, DuBois.