So one day, about last Friday, there was this girl who went on a cabin retreat with her fellow students. There were about twenty girls bunking in one room, and when this girl was sleepy and tucked up in her bunk in the corner, someone in the room asked her to tell a story. Because she was in a stupor of exhaustion, she told the story of her day in about three terse sentences, beginning with “Once there was a girl in a red dress,” then she said “Good night.”
This is a slightly expanded version of the story. Is it terse? It’s impressionistic, after the style of her favorite artist.
One day there was this girl who was sad about some things, so she decided to wear her red dress because that’s her happy color. She went to classes and listened to lectures and discussions about literature and teaching the Bible. She packed her bags for a two-night retreat and hated that it takes so much Stuff to be civilized for two days.
Then for a couple hours, she went with two people to the children’s section of the library in town to find books they might use for history curriculum writing.It was fun and informative and felt productive in the way that touching something feels like progress and reality. In other words, paging through a book in your hands and running your finger over the illustrations feels much more productive than just reading customer reviews about it on Amazon.
Mid-afternoon, she found herself in a car with friends, and before she knew it, she was wading in Lake Erie and her red hem got comfortably wet, swirling around her. The water was clear and cold, and she wished she could go for a swim.
In the evening, she led a fantastic team that used finger paints to replicate Monet’s “Sunset in Venice” and she felt as if she was high on some kind of drug. The colors, combined with the tactile connection of fingers in paint, plus the camaraderie, soothed something deep in her that had been restless for a long time. When she watched the real sun set over the real lake, she reveled in those colors and knew that it would be completely impossible to mix colors so vivid with either paints or pixels, so she let the image make its own lasting impression on her soul and thought of the sunset happening just beyond the horizon and remembered these words that always make her gasp:
We could have lived on a dark planet. And been told that there would be one sunset. And we’d have lined every west coast of every continent and every island on the planet. And as we saw the glory of that event and tears came to our eyes, we’d have written about it in our journals and regaled our progeny with the glory of that event. But what must God be like, that He has made our planet a perpetual kaleidoscope of sunrises and sunsets?!
Soon she wrapped herself in her red, fuzzy blanket and someone read them a story and she ate ice cream and went to bed.
(The quote is referenced here.)