Below, Immanuel member Sallie Casto reflects on the role coloring as craft and meditation has played throughout her life.
Cecelia was our best friend growing up in the early 1960s. Four years older than me and six years older than my sister, Paulette, Cecelia taught us what was cool. The Beatles …and Barbies. And we colored—a lot. Cecelia’s coloring was better than ours—always staying in the lines, darker, bolder colors. She was great at butterflies. On occasion, the three of us would each color something and ask our Mom to pick her favorite. Somehow Mom always managed to make us feel that each of us had created a work of art, each so special to her.
We moved away from Cecelia when we were about 10 years old. She settled in LA and we’re in Northern Virginia. We are all blessed with wonderful families and have stayed loosely in touch over the past 50 years—a few visits back and forth.
And so it was that last year, when my Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was quickly weakening, Cecelia made the courageous decision to visit and say out loud those things that were on her heart. How my Mom and our family provided the stability to Cecelia’s formative years that her own family could not; how she credits that experience with the ability to build her own strong family. How much she loved my Mom. Her visit was a precious gift to us.
Amazingly, the day before Cecelia arrived, the cover of Parade magazine featured a piece about the runaway popularity of adult coloring books! I had heard of them of course, and had fondly remembered my love of coloring as a child …I should really get one of those, I had thought. Now the master color-er was visiting us, and what better way to commemorate the occasion but by stocking up on coloring books and new boxes of crayons! I enjoyed texting Cecelia and Paulette about my acquisitions and laying down the gauntlet about who would do the best coloring!
When Cecelia arrived, I had coloring stations set up at my Mom’s condo and in my living room, and had already begun coloring. We all colored a bit and teased my Mom that she would have to pick the best. Coloring quickly became a way for me to pass the time, sitting with my Mom, ready to chat when she wanted to. And there were pretty pictures to show her along the way. When I was at home and couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night, coloring became a way to fill the void.
Cecelia spent 4 days with us, coloring, looking at photos, laughing, and crying with my Mom, my sister, and me. A week later, my Mom passed away. My portfolio of colored pictures has grown considerably.
Immanuel will explore coloring as a meditative practice, as well as other ancient and modern spiritual disciplines, this September during our three-week course, Do Christians Meditate? Spiritual Disciplines for the 21st Century. Click here for more information!