A woman captured my attention at Rotary Club. “I’m a mutant,” she said. “Most people have three color receptors in their eyes. I have four. I see 99 million more colors than the average person.”
I goggled Concetta Antico. Her story seems legitimate. Concetta said, “I consider my mutation a gift.” Her vision acuity is called tetrachromatic. She uses her ability in her profession as an artist. “But sometimes my vision gift can become a challenge,” she acknowledged. “The riot of colors in a supermarket aisle, can be a bit overwhelming.” I wonder how Concetta does with Christmas tree lights.
Tetrachromatic vision has its benefits, but super-human vision is not needed to see the beauty of the earth and the glory of the skies. Much more important than an additional receptor in the eye, is the focus of the mind. Consider Vincent Van Gogh. He covered his canvas with brilliant colors, and some scholars now believe he was missing a color receptor. They suggest that he was colorblind.
Whether we have two, three or four color receptors, we humans have the ability to choose how we focus our mind’s eye. Will we decide to look beyond the horrid sights that sometimes fill our screens when we flip a channel or click the mouse? Will we envision an alternative picture of hope?
The Christian scripture teaches that while mad kings were doing their dastardly things in days of old, God was bathing a little town of Bethlehem in light. God still imparts to human hearts the blessings of heaven. I have found that when my head gets to the heart of this message I have better potential to become a receptor and reflector of God’s beauty.
As a child of seven I began to wonder about death. I lived in upstate New York near a railroad track and just beyond that was the shores of Lake Champlain. One day I heard about someone getting hit by a train. I learned about another falling through the ice on the lake when they ventured out before the lake top was solidly frozen. Then my great Grandmother died and I wondered about her.
I went to my mother and I asked her, “What happens when you die.” My mom gave me an answer from the Old Testament that carried a rather biological tone. She told me, “From Dust you come to Dust you Go”
I looked under my bed at home and I saw a lot of dust. I thought “That’s my Great Grandma-- And That’s my future.”
I started to do some thinking about whether there were any better alternatives for me. I started paying attention at Sunday School and church. The main message I got was that I had better be good if I want to go to heaven. Reflecting on this message I did an elementary personal assessment of my moral character in order to determine my potential spiritual destiny. I wasn’t too encouraged. I didn’t get along with one of my older sisters. I smoked cigarettes that I took from my dad’s cupboard. Some of my buddies were starting to steal things from stores and encouraging me to do it too. The pressure was on from my little peer group. I feared that I was messing up my life. I was headed to DUST or worse.
I knew I needed some help for my young life. I asked my mom if I could talk to the chaplain at the military base chapel where my mother was the organist. She set me up with a meeting. I met with Chaplain Lindal, a Lutheran Pastor, at the base Chapel at Plattsburg Air Force Base. I talked with him about the love and forgiveness of God that Jesus taught. I remember learning about how Jesus will take care of me forever, even when I’m dead. I learned about the strength that God provides to help live a better life.
As a result of my discussion with Chaplain Lindal, he baptized me. I was seven years old. At times I have had people ask me if I ever smoked. I tell them I stopped when I was seven.
For the past several years I've put together a family video at the year's end that serves as a retrospective for the previous 12 months. This year I lost both my parents, while at the same time serving as a First Responder Pastor helping a church through the grief process after the death of their longtime pastor. A Rotary friend, Larry Potter, came to my church and helped our choir with a very poignant Christmas anthem that seems to sum up our year of heartache, abiding faith, and prevailing joy.....................................................................