Thursday, May 21, 2020

Weekday Devotion With Pastor Chris

I remember being handed a small box of crayons one day and being told by our art instructor to go out and make a drawing.  I felt a bit insulted.  Crayons were for kids.  But as I thought about it I realized that any real artist would, of course, be able to create something beautiful with those eight or nine colors we had been given.

     The word “crayon” is French.  It dates back to the 16th century and originally meant “chalk pencil.”  A crayon is a stick of colored wax, charcoal, chalk or other material and used for writing or drawing.  When it is made of pigment with a dry binder it is called a pastel.  Pastels, of course, are a favored medium of numerous artists going back to Leonardo da Vinci, and including the likes of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas.

     Combining wax with pigment is nothing new.  It is thousands of years old.  In the first century C.E., Pliny the Elder spoke of some of the earliest techniques of wax crayon drawing.  By the nineteenth century, cylinder-shaped crayons were being made with charcoal and oil, and in 1828 another innovation was added with the introduction of colored pigments.  The final step in the evolution came with the realization that using wax instead of oil produced a stronger crayon that was easier to hold.
Image by Mahesh Patel from Pixabay

     Here in the United States a man named Joseph Binney started the Peekskill Chemical Works in upstate New York in 1864.  The company made charcoal and lamp black, and in 1885 was taken over by Joseph’s son, Edwin, and Edwin’s cousin, C. Harold Smith.  The two cousins showed a willingness to try new things to expand their business, and they introduced new products like red pigment for barn paint, and a carbon black and that made rubber tires stronger. 

     In 1902, Edwin’s wife Alice, a school-teacher, made a suggestion. Why not begin manufacturing an inexpensive alternative to the crayons that were being imported from Europe?  She even came up with a name, “Crayola,” joining the French word "craie" (meaning stick of chalk) with "ola" from "oleaginous" (meaning oily).  Made of paraffin wax and color pigment, Crayola Crayons were introduced in 1903.  Today, the company produces some 3 billion crayons a year, and shows an annual revenue of $750 million.

     “Why not try…”  We aren’t always receptive to ideas from others.  Without meaning to (I should add the word “perhaps”), suggestions can feel like criticism.  Or they can feel like a push to move beyond what is comfortable and familiar into something risky and demanding.  We don’t always welcome them, but sometimes it is right there in those new ideas that the Spirit of God is moving -- not in every idea or every suggestion, but often enough that it would serve us well to pay attention.  Sometimes it is in our willingness to step up and try something new that we open our lives to that abundance which the Spirit offers. 

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19)

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