I taught third grade and fourth grade in a parochial school. Pictures of God were nestled within the illustrated pages of bible stories and religion texts stacked on the bookshelves. Fortunately, questions with this depth rarely needed an explanation from me or a book. The kids usually took the conversation where it needed to go.
“Jesus is white,” insisted James.
“No, he’s not,” argued Matteo. “He’s tan.”
“How do you know?” inquired Amy.
“He’s white in church,” replied James.
“Jesus is in the church?” she asked.
“No, the Jesus statue is in the church,” explained James. “The statue is white. And so is Jesus.”
“That statue was thought up by an artist,” Michael mumbled. “That guy didn’t know what Jesus looked like. He just made his looks up.”
“I didn't ask about a Jesus-colored crayon,” argued Heather. “What color is God?”
She dumped her box of crayons on the table, reminding me of all of the colors of paint that were available as I selected hues for a picture of an elephant when I was five. At five, I felt no need to mix the black and white to bring life to the elephant’s grey skin. I chose red and yellow and brown and black and white because I liked them. No one said “Color between the lines” until I entered kindergarten where I learned the “correct” color of elephants … and people. God? That was a tricky one. I never considered the question before, but today I heard plenty of answers.
While the children argued among themselves, Michael walked over to the world map on the wall and traced Israel’s boundaries with his finger. The land of milk and honey. The Promised Land. Jesus’s home. Michael meandered to the window sill and picked up the globe and flashlight used for a lesson the day before about sunlight and the equator. He placed the globe on the table in front of me and put the flashlight in my hand.
“Do it again, Miss Connor,” said Michael. “Talk about the sunlight and the equator. And people’s skin color.”
“The closer people live to the equator, the darker people’s skins get,” shouted James. “They’d be sunburned all of the time if they didn't have dark skin.”
“Kinda like a permanent suntan,” laughed Alicia.
“Well, sort of like that,” I agreed. ”In science class we call that …”
“Brown,” Michael interrupted, pointing to his own skin. ”We call it brown.”
Man was created in God’s own image.
“What color is God, Michael?” I asked.
Wisdom often unfolds in questions … when I’m wise enough to listen by inviting answers from Divine sources. Like Michael.
“God’s whatever color he wants to be,” he happily replied.
The bell rang. The children lined up to go to recess. And I understood God a little better than I did before. God transcends colors … and we do not need to confine the Divine to shades between the lines. God is. And, today, that’s all I need to know.
Dr. Julie Connor is popular workshop presenter and conference speaker, author, and passionate advocate for at-risk youth and multicultural inclusion. She has 30+ years of experience as a teacher, pastoral minister, nonprofit director, and program administrator. As an expert in vision, mission, and collaborative goal-setting strategies, Julie believes we are created with purpose for a purpose. Dr. Connor shows others how to dream big, plan well, work smart, and embrace our Divine call to greatness. She hosts a website called Inspiration With Julie. She is the author of An Inspired Walk, a four-book series providing tools needed to transform dreams into manageable plans of action that will be available in August, 2013 (Go to http://drjulieconnor.com/