The Beauty of Unexpected Colors

Smiling woman standing in front of colorful tiles

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .—JAMES 1:17 [NIV]

A year and a half after having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my wife’s interest in life suddenly reemerged. Always outgoing and engaging, Martha’s confidence had evaporated at age 50 with her diagnosis.

When Martha was encouraged to join a watercolor class, she jumped in feet first, to my great surprise. She’d never shown an interest in a quiet hobby like art. The lethargy so common with Alzheimer’s melted away with this new endeavor.

Martha painted scores of pictures large and small—turtles and fish in an orange-and-green sea; a multicolored zebra; a blue-faced hippo atop an orange-and-yellow rainbow.

One painting especially draws me in. I call it Martha’s self-portrait, although I’m unsure what she actually had in mind. Its complexity and boldness of color reflect a dimension I’d never seen in Martha. Thick red hair streaked blue, black, orange and green tumbling onto a red forehead; deep blue eyes streaming brown tears down yellow cheeks onto a chin accentuated with green and pink.

I had no idea where all this came from. Neither did Martha’s teacher. “Carlen, this can’t be taught,” she said of Martha’s use of color.

But what a delight to see this talent unfold out of a dark and scary place. And to see the glow in Martha’s face when she completed a painting.

Today's Prayer:

Thank you, my dear Father of lights, for surprising us when we are most in need.

Adapted from Strength & Grace: Daily Devotions for Caregivers, a new publication from Guideposts