wringer washers & kaleidoscopes

“If I am known as your ‘black friend,’ news flash: You see color. Let’s see each other as friends and fellow Americans.” — Carol T., age 50

“Everything feels so heavy. What is wrong with everyone? I love being brown.” — Jubilee W., age 13

The current social climate has been nothing short of tricky to navigate for the last several weeks. It feels as though as a nation, our hearts have been put through the wringer of that old-time three-tub wringer washer of my childhood. “Wash Day” was always a day of dread in some ways for me. As a teenager, just the thought of spending the whole day sorting, washing, hanging the wash on the line, folding, and finally putting loads and loads and loads of clean laundry all away is what I would dread. 

However, as a younger version of myself, it wasn’t the all-day affair that I dreaded as much as it was the wringer washer itself. And actually, in all honesty, the wringer itself was the epicenter of my dread. 

What if my hand got caught in the wringer? I was pretty confident it would be smashed flat. After all, just look at what happened to the clothes!!! Surely, my hand would have had the life completely squeezed out of it!! 

In many ways, our hearts, my heart, and spirits, have felt the “SQUEEZE” of the proverbial wringer washer of current happenings in so, so many ways. First, there came a global pandemic that brought about a somewhat forced shut down of our lives. Next, personally, there was the untimely passing of a very dear friend who was more like family than he was a friend… and now, the navigation of our current social climate which makes you feel like you are treading where serpents nest or bomb shells are buried. All of these situations force us to feel that squeeze and try to make sense of it all. 

Allow me to share the words that have brought my heart and spirit the most comfort in this season of “the wringer.” The two quotes at the beginning of this blog have come from two dear ones who are in different places in their lives but both have struck a deep well of pondering in my own heart… 

“If I am known as your ‘black friend,’ news flash: You see color. Let’s see each other as friends and fellow Americans.”

“Everything feels so heavy. What is wrong with everyone? I love being brown.”

The question that quickly leapt out of my heart and took me aback was this: is seeing color such a bad thing? And, as I have chewed on this question, a word study has ensued; that tends to be how the Great Big God of the Universe speaks to me.  

The word that came to me is “kaleidoscope.” Did you know that kaleidoscope is derived from the Greek? Let’s break it down…

Kalos – meaning beautiful, beauty.

Eidos – meaning that which is seen-form-shape.

Skopeo – meaning to look to, to examine.  

Thus, the word “kaleidoscope” equates to the observation of beautiful forms.

The observation of beautiful forms. 

You guys… isn’t that what we are?! We are those beautiful forms… the human racewith all of our good, bad, and ugly. We are those beautiful forms. We each have so much to bring to the table to share with each other. So much that goes beyond our skin color but even our skin tone is so vital to who we are and what we bring to the table. There is so much to value in another person — like their mind and how they think, their heart and how they feel, things deep inside their souls. 

So, I love to see the colors of the human race. I love watching the colors bend and shift and come together again in intricate patterns and designs. So many angles just like the kaleidoscope of our youth.  

Here, therefore, is the kaleidoscope in words: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.”

I think I hear that old wringer washer firing up again…