In just over a month we will publish the beautiful title My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. by author Roger Hutchison. Roger is from the Houston area and his home is right in the path of Hurricane Harvey. He, along with so many others, has evacuated his home and our prayers go out to him. In the midst of all of this Roger is approving the final edits of his book! He graciously sent us this post about the experience that inspired him in his vocation as an artist, and to write this book.
I am an artist. I paint at my Grandmother’s table, a table I once played under as a child and on which I enjoyed vibrant and delicious meals. The table became a Eucharistic symbol for me. It is the place where I go to paint, pray, and remember. It has become such an important place for me, that I knew I had to invite others to the table.
On Friday, May 3, at the invitation of Trinity Episcopal Church, I traveled to Sandy Hook and Newtown, CT.
I was invited to facilitate a painting session with the children of Trinity, Newton, their families, and their Sunday school teachers.
The undercroft of the church was set up with round tables. On each table we had canvas paper, paints, baby wipes, toothpicks, cotton swabs, pencils, writing paper, and scraps of cardboard. Everyone gathered at the tables…mothers with their children, friend with friend, and neighbor with neighbor. We lit a candle, I gave a few instructions, and the painting began.
It was a powerful evening that changed me at a cellular level.
I saw one mother comforting another mother as they both grieved for their friend who lost a child. I had a conversation with a 3rd grade girl who told me she had had a really bad day. Her painting was dark and frantic. I listened to her for a little while—then encouraged her to paint another one. The second painting was a bit more colorful. She took her two paintings and smashed them together. When she pulled them apart, the darkness had lifted. I could see light and love…and a beautiful smile.
I had a conversation with a young mother who told me that she feels guilty sometimes that she still has her children. She shared with me what it was like to take her children home on that tragic day—passing house after house with state patrol cars in the driveways.
And the mother who told me how her first-grader, a big boy for his age, had climbed up into her lap and sobbed when he learned that his friend was not going to be there when he returned to school.
I believe that within the grief that exists in tragedies such as the one that happened in Newtown or in our own personal losses, there is much hope, healing, and possibility.
While there is grief, sadness, and loss, there is also hope. There is an opportunity for celebration as we gather together, break bread, talk, and are welcomed. Whether it is through cooking, painting, or Eucharist, we come together to remember.
The text and illustrations of My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes. are designed to guide the reader through different emotions and reactions related to grieving, including shock, tears, anger, and hope. This book encourages and explores the rhythms of grief and healing using color, few words, honesty, and hope. Something I believe we all need.