Thanksgiving Day for many years was in time in which multiple generations of family members and cousins gathered at my childhood home. They were festive, joyous occasions and to this day, nearly 6 decades later, I still cherish those memories. I have to say the 1960’s seem so long ago to me in a variety of ways.

As I remembered those Thanksgiving celebrations in recent days, my mind was flooded with a slide show of other recollections that happened at our home during various times of the year. From playing in the yard with friends, to watching dust clouds gather on the horizon, to feeling the heat of desert summers and the sounds of crickets, I spent a bit of time relishing these images this week.

When I was a child, my mother loved to paint and she set up all she needed in one room in our house. Typically she painted with oils and acrylics. I can picture her standing at her easel with a palette in hand turning her head this way and that, trying to envision where her brushes would take her next.

While I am not an artist, as I find stick figures challenging to create, my mother’s palette has remained a powerful memory for me. Her palette has served as a metaphor for a life lesson I often need to remind myself of, particularly during challenging times.

Often palettes are covered with a variety of paint colors. Some dark, others bold, some pale, others bright and colorful. In many ways, a painter’s palette serves as an apt illustration of what our lives are about. Some things are joyful, uplifting and life giving. Others feel diminishing, heavy, and stark. But whether something is good or something else is quite the opposite, they both sit on the same palette, they coexist at the same time. Like a painter’s palette, a variety of colors, so to speak, are generally always part of where we are at any given moment.

I have found over time that when things are tough, to remember to look at all else happening at the same time, that is affirming, encouraging, and positive. That when things are great, to at least recall that there may be other areas in life in which struggles remain. We can lose perspective when we forget this illustration of a painter’s palette. We can end up focusing on all that is rough, forgetting all that is good. But it is inordinately rare that any of us has a life palette with only one color.

As we journey in life, I invite you to join me in keeping the image of a painter’s palette front and center. Many colors coexist at the same time and when we seem to be focused on just one part of the palette, God invites us to take a look around at all the other colors that are just waiting to be savored, in the midst of whatever it is that is happening.