Carol Carter is part of the York and Hull district team who run the MicroYPS project for young people (soon to be re-branded ONE Opportunity). She lives in York with her husband and teenage son.
We are all busy and taking time out to spend with God is hard. I am not a person who is good at sitting still and certainly not good at keeping quiet, as those who know me will testify!
From a young age I have always enjoyed colouring, whether it be large printed picture posters or the 1980’s Altair design pattern books. It is something that I find relaxing and allows me time to sit still and quiet while still doing something. I continued my love of colouring into adulthood and my husband will tell you I even tracked down a Rosie and Jim colouring book to take on a canal boat holiday when I was about 25 years old. But I really appreciated the times I spent sitting colouring at the front of a canal boat slowly gliding along and seeing God’s natural world passing by.
It was my husband who first introduced me to the Lindisfarne Scriptorium – a small business located on Lindisfarne who use the celtic traditions of illuminated gospels to create artwork and books. My favourite things that they produce are their colouring sheets and books. Beautifully illustrated designs based on scripture verses or Christian truths ready for you to colour as you wish. I am now the owner of 5 of their books and when I spend time colouring I use that time to reflect, pause and pray, losing myself in the design and the words.
I have often taken the books on retreats, holidays, quiet days and will make sure I have one with me if we are away from home at Christmas or Easter so that I might try to find a quiet time in the busy family celebrations for a bit of colouring and reflection.
During the time I have been working on MicroYPS we have used colouring as a reflective activity with the young people on their residential weekends and it has always proved popular.
I have also used it on a family retreat day we ran in the York circuit a few years ago and again it was a popular activity for all ages attending.
For the children in our churches I think it is something they recognise as fun but it might also still their bodies and minds more than some other activities we offer, giving them a chance to reflect and pray. For the young people it seemed to be a safe activity, you cannot do it wrong and again it offered a quiet reflective time. While for adults, like me, if feels creative without the pressure of actually creating something from scratch. For me there is nothing worse than being faced with a piece of blank paper and being asked to draw/paint/create something! The colouring books/sheets give me a place to start from – I can add my own creativity with the colours and patterns I choose and that is enough!
Colouring is such a current ‘thing’ that you can pick up a colouring book for adults in nearly every shop you visit but is it something you have ever considered as a way of communicating with God? You don’t have to be colouring a scriptural inspired picture but maybe having such a design would help. Lindisfarne Scriptorium have many different colouring books, posters etc that you can purchase for yourself or maybe as a gift for someone else? A more recent development is that they now have many of their pictures available as digital downloads so you can pay once and print as many as you wish at whatever size you wish. See their online shop for full details: https://www.lindisfarne-scriptorium.co.uk/