A nun in my Interfaith group recently shared a gorgeous photo of a flower. It was a burst of amazing color—fuschia, yellow, bright pink, turquoise, chartreuse. Even the leaves looked dusted with magenta sparkles. Then she told us it was a simple weed. WHAT?!
A couple of years ago, National Geographic ran a photo essay about Craig Burrows, who photographs objects under infrared, ultraviolet, and ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescent light. Suddenly plants glitter and glow with alien Avatar brilliance.
It isn’t projecting the color onto the plants; the light actually makes the plants fluoresce, so the colors radiate from the plants themselves. Even a humble cucumber flower can glow bright orange and blue with dazzling pollen.
I recently wrote a Meridian Magazine article here about how flowers, which we think hold still, are actually dancing. But it’s in such slow motion that we don’t notice it. If nothing else, this is a great reminder that things are not always as they seem.
Now, even the appearance of plants turns out to be deceptive. And I couldn’t help wondering, What if we saw human beings this way?
How thrilling would it be to discover that you actually radiate the colors of a sunset? Or of a coral reef? Or a flowery meadow? The way our human eyes perceive one another is incomplete.
And isn’t that absolutely true about our Spirits as well? So often we jump to hasty judgments instead of looking at one another as children of God. He is our King and we are all Princes and Princesses. If we could really peek into the soul of another, we might be astonished at the beauty we find. And we’d definitely treat each other with more honor and respect.
When you look at people—especially strangers you don’t know– you are left to the swift conclusions we all draw, based on clothing, posture, age, attitude, race, hair, etc. Yet these are all details that obscure our real selves. None of us like being pigeon-holed based on our appearance, yet it’s human nature to turn around and do it to others.
If, instead, we could see someone and imagine the glory and the personal victories they’ve achieved, the struggles they’ve valiantly met, the grief they’ve endured, the people they’ve helped—all things we cannot know at a glance—we might be in awe of that scruffy guy, that pushy clerk, that crazy driver. And they might, if only we could see them properly, look like a brilliant masterpiece of incredible color.
Remember not to undervalue yourself, either. Don’t look in the mirror and assume you see the whole story. Don’t recall critical comments and feel you must own them, either. Allow yourself to imagine lustrous, magical colors that express the real you. Who knows—perhaps this is why we all have certain favorite colors.
And maybe this is why President David O. McKay once wrote in his journal: “I then fell asleep, and beheld in vision something infinitely sublime. In the distance I beheld a beautiful white city. Though it was far away, yet I seemed to realize that trees with luscious fruit, shrubbery with gorgeously-tinted leaves, and flowers in perfect bloom abounded everywhere. The clear sky above seemed to reflect these beautiful shades of color. I then saw a great concourse of people approaching the city. Each one wore a white flowing robe and a white headdress. Instantly my attention seemed centered upon their leader, and though I could see only the profile of his features and his body, I recognized him at once as my Savior! The tint and radiance of his countenance were glorious to behold! There was a peace about him which seemed sublime—it was divine!
“The city, I understood, was his. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness. But who were they?
“As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words: These Are They Who Have Overcome The World—Who Have Truly Been Born Again!”
It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, let’s look for underlying goodness and praiseworthy qualities when we catch ourselves judging ourselves or someone else. I think we’ll actually be much closer to the mark.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.