BY WALT ALBRITTON
A woman of my acquaintance loved this poem and often quoted it as she shared her faith with others:
by Ann Weems
I watched her go uncelebrated into the second grade,
A greenless child,
Gray among the orange and yellow,
Attached too much to corners and to other people’s sunshine.
She colors the rainbow brown
And leaves balloons unopened in their packages.
Oh, who will touch this greenless child?
Who will plant alleluias in her heart
And send her dancing into all the colors of God?
Or will she be left like an unwrapped package on the kitchen table —
Too dull for anyone to take the trouble?
Does God think we’re her keeper?
Ann Weems was a gifted American poet who died at age 81 in 2016. A Presbyterian elder and lecturer, she was called the “Presbyterian Poet Laureate.”
Her poetry touches the heart in deep places.
While going through my books, I came across a New Testament of the woman who loved Weems’ poem. She had written the poem in the flyleaf of her Bible. As I paused to read it, I remembered the woman telling me why she loved it.
“Growing up,” she said, “I was that Greenless child. I was dressed in gray, grieving over the death of my father during the second grade, while my school friends wore orange and yellow. My rainbows were more brown than blue. I was that unwrapped package that everyone ignored.
“But, I did not remain greenless,” she said. One day Jesus came into my life. He began planting alleluias in my heart and sent me dancing into all the rich colors of God. It’s because of what Jesus did for me that all my life I have looked for ‘greenless’ children, especially girls. And whenever I found one, I tried to plant alleluias in her heart.”
To do that, she often made and gave uncelebrated children large and colorful Raggedy Ann dolls, praying that the loving gift would inspire them to begin dancing in the beautiful colors of God.
I have no idea how many children she rescued from a greenless life. I do know it was a signal honor to have watched her tireless efforts to plant alleluias in the hearts of little children, all the while dancing herself in the colors of God.
Who was that woman? She was my wife, Dean Albritton, whose memory evokes alleluias in my heart.