Thoughtfully placed in my hand, a tubular form, it rattled slightly, as my fingers wrapped around it. Even with my eyes held tightly closed I knew what it was, a kaleidoscope! I had always wanted one and now here it was placed in my hand by a friend. I opened my eyes and smiled as I looked at it. I was overwhelmed by a strange sense of contentment, after so many years of timidly yearning, here it was, this simply perfect gift!
I couldn’t resist turning it up to the light. I squinted up my left eye and peered through with the right. Vivid stained-glass colours fell into symmetrical form like tin soldiers, with the slightest turn of my hand.
I was 45 and my mind wandered as I thought about how my life had taken many turns too. Like the kaleidoscope palette, each circumstance had brought a new presentation of shapes and colours to deal with. Some sharp and painful, others soft and pleasant—marriage, birth of children, a first home, new cars, new jobs, moves, separation, death of a parent, divorce, and children leaving. Each turn required me to give or give up some part of myself that I cherished. Then move on and live life differently. It seems change is inevitable.
These days the roller-coaster rides of our own personal life experiences are not all we have to deal with. The world has become a much smaller place then it used to be, due to technological and communication advancements. Media presents what’s happened on one side of the world with such clarity that we can’t help feel the impact upfront and personal. Terrorism in London and the tsunami in southern Asia are only examples of what awakens our greatest fears. Global tragedies have global responses. Sometimes we rally to face the major challenges together but mostly we’ve got enough going on in the confines of our own little lives that leave us to wonder.
What is a kaleidoscope without light? In life, what is the light? I believe love is light. For that reason I believe it is important to know God. When the world goes crazy, and the ones who promise to love draw away, it is good to have Someone bigger then ourselves to hold on to. The light of God’s love gives hope and breeds sufficient confidence to live yet another day.
Likely if I had been given a kaleidoscope as a child, a few quick turns and I would have discarded it, perhaps never to pick it up again. Today as an adult, I hold it with a sense of mystery and honour; a trophy of a childhood longing that breeds such great contemplation.
Who inspired its creation? Michaelangelo, that brilliant artist, Lois Tiffany, the creator of the beautiful stained glass windows and lamps, or perhaps God, the master Creator of all? I look into it again and I see first a universe, then a lush garden, and a thousand chapel stained-glass windows, all gently cascading colours and brilliance at the turn of my hand.
We prod with fingers and peak into everything as children. It is our way of learning about the world but looking and seeing are two totally different experiences. Retrospectively a kaleidoscope gives us the chance to do both.
Tragically, many of us do not have sufficient faith during the moments when our life is turned upside down, as it is when the unexpected happens. At times like this we feel abandoned and alone, but that is definitely not the case.
Scripture tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God is the ultimate giver. He knows what we are made of and what each one of us is going through. It was never His plan for us to be bearers of such pain and difficult circumstance. He can be counted upon to care for all of us in every situation and will one day, with the gentle turn of His almighty hand, make all things new!