I find myself humming little bits of this old Cyndi Lauper song lately, or singing odd lines while I’m thinking other thoughts. “I see your true colors shining through – almond butter or cashew butter – I see your true colors and that’s why I love you – rats I meant to text Megan back about hemming her pants – so don’t be afraid…” and then I realize I’m full volume in the grocery store for no apparent reason.
I heard a Maya Angelou quote quoted last week, and it resonated enough to write it down. Got your pencil handy? “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” It speaks to the part of me hurt more than once by the same person, the same behavior, the pattern I should have seen or paid more attention to. I’ve been cold-shouldered, overlooked, and seen the same ugly side of the same few folks enough lately to feel Ms. Maya’s truth: Fool me once shame on you and so on. I believe given enough time people will show you, perhaps over and over again, who they truly are, and sometimes those true colors, lurking all along, are not so pretty.
BUT. Last week I attended the most beautiful baptism in San Francisco. The bishop spoke of forgiveness and rebirth, of old ways dying and new shared values creating a “beloved community.” He reminded me that some colors we choose and some choose us as we try, perhaps over and over again, to get them right, to make them shine, to become more vivid or more subtle or both. That it’s less about the finger-pointing Aha! moment of true colors exposed and more about the forgiveness and grace of true colors accepted. Maybe you’ve got a red streak or you tend to be blue. I’ve got this thing for yellow. It occurred to me that if someone shows me who they are repeatedly, because we’re not always the same and we’re not always pretty, I can work with the way their colors blend. I call myself an artist after all. There’s no shame in fooling me twice or three times if I keep believing in and loving every beautiful attempt. Wild herds and beloved communities are messy and colorful, and we can’t know them with one glance or only one chance. I think Cyndi might have this one right: we’re beautiful like a rainbow.