Many will recollect the legendary song, "Colour My World" (1969), written by American musician James Pankow, one of the founding members of the jazz/rock fusion band Chicago. Although this trombonist's tribute to his first love via the influence of John Sebastian Bach's work on the song's creation is not our focus, the song's title and fundamental sentiment are worth applying to our Sunday Morning Forum "lesson."
At this week's Adult Forum, Director of Religious Education Joanne Dingus invited attendees to participate in "The Bigger Picture"—a hands-on activity in making community art. The main attraction for this artistic effort was a large, blank painter's canvas surrounded by tools of the trade.
On this community canvas, attendees painted designs of their favored colors that best represented their thoughts and emotions. Some painted flowers and ribbons; others rendered the well-known Unitarian Universalist chalice or added abstract designs. During this creative flow, Joanne emphasized the importance of expressing one's unique traits and allowing them to connect us to others within a community of caring. This message was reinforced as the painters "interwove" their images on the canvas, creating a tapestry of color and sensation.
Our innovative facilitator also invited attendees to color mandalas ("circle" in Sanskrit) for crafting a paper quilt. These ritualistic symbols, signifying the universe in Hinduism and Buddhism, can be any geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically. Representing wholeness, these cosmic designs suggest our relation to infinity and can be used in meditation.
The mandala task, however, came with an unexpected twist. Once these microcosms of the universe were meticulously colored, Joanne carefully cut each one into fourths. For some, seeing their hard work divided into pieces was both surprising and sad. But then Joanne asked each artist to retain one piece of the mandala and trade the remaining three with others in the room. At the end of the exercise, the newly assembled mandalas were arranged into a colorful quilt that reflected the personalities of everyone who had taken up pencil or marker.
Interactive classes are indeed community-building within the Fellowship and beyond. We are grateful to Joanne for the tactile reminder of "the bigger picture" as we paint the stories of our lives on the canvas of our world. Pankow was on the right sheet of music! What greater purpose than to "colour my [our] world with hope of loving you" [our neighbors near and far]. May our artistry be harmoniously inspired; may the Masterpiece be the blended beloved community! So may it be!