08 Dec Orange: One Color, Two Worlds
It’s funny how a color can be associated with so many things. Orange is one of those colors for me.
The Netherlands and Orange
In many ways orange represents the Netherlands. If you’ve ever watched an international soccer match, you’ve seen all those Dutch people dressed in orange! This dates back to Willem van Oranje, also known as William the Silent, who organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule which led to an independent Dutch State. Even though the flag of the Netherlands is red, white, and blue, it is often flown with a narrow orange pennant hanging on the same pole.
Perhaps the biggest display of orange in the entire world occurs each day on Koninginnedag – Queen’s / King’s Day. (check out the crazy video link!) April 30 is a holiday across the Netherlands which commemorates the former Queen’s birthday. If you like orange, that is the day to be in the Netherlands!
Inmates and Orange
Orange is also commonly associated with inmates since prisoners usually wear orange when they are in public or in court. And film makers love the color orange. Watch a bad boy prison movie and you’ll see the color orange. Surprisingly, orange is not the only color used in prisons or jails across America. If you are an inmate in Cleveland County you will wear a pink shirt with yellow and white striped pants. In Arizona prisoners wear traditional stripes and pink underwear. The state of California outfits prisoners in denim jeans and blue chambray shirts. New York State—where orange is the color worn by the Correctional Emergency Response Team—bans the color orange among prisoners and uses hunter green.
Once a week, when I teach journal writing to female inmates, I’m surrounded by the color orange. This week, the most unexpected thing happened. At the end of class, I handed out a paper full of questions. “Here’s some questions to work on during the week,” I said. “It might give you some ideas of things to write about if you are stuck.”
One of the women said, “You handed this paper a long time ago. Can I tell you how I used it?”
“Sure,” I replied. Intrigued.
“I don’t know my son very well,” she said. “So every week I write him a letter. I choose one of the questions on the paper and write about it. Then I mail it off. And the next week, he writes to me about the same question. Going through the questions, writing back and forth, well, that’s how I got to know my son.”
I was dumbfounded. I mean, I do my work; I teach and talk and write and then I go home. But sometimes, every once in awhile, I’m given a glimpse of something that continues. Something that goes on, after I leave. Every once in awhile I see a ‘result’ of my work. It’s not often. It’s a treat and a treasure. And I feel so blessed.
Here’s the paper I handed out.
UNDERSTANDING THE PRESENT BY REMEMBERING THE PAST
Things to Write About:
What I want in life
Milestones in my life
What I believe about money
What I fear
What I like
Things I do well
Things I love
What I like about myself
Positive experiences I’ve had
People I like being with
Times I’ve been wrong
Times I’ve been right
Losses in my life
Things I need to handle in order to restore my integrity
Times I’ve wanted to give up
What I want to eliminate from my life
Questions to write about
Who am I today? Who was I yesterday? What do I want to be tomorrow?
How can I forgive myself?
How can I forgive someone else?
What is love?
What does God mean to me?
What is wrong here?
What makes my heart sing?
Two Cultures of Orange
These are my two cultures of orange: The Netherlands and County Jail. It’s funny how that one color brings two very important parts of my life together. Orange: the color on the color wheel between red and yellow. Between caution and happiness. It’s a brave color. Sometimes, however, my mind blinks and when I’m in a jail class I feel like I’m at a Dutch soccer match. And sometimes, when I’m in a Dutch tourist shop, I feel like I’m back in jail class. Strange that. One color. Two worlds.