English Reader

Colorful shades of gray

Moths are very ugly creatures. At least that is what I always thought until a reliable source told me otherwise. When I was about five or six years old, my brother Joseph and I stayed overnight at our Aunt Linda’s house, our favorite relative. She spoke to us like adults, and she always had the best stories.

Joseph was only four years old, and still afraid of the dark, so Aunt Linda left the door open and the hall light on when she tucked us in to bed. Joe couldn’t sleep, so he just lay there staring at the ceiling. Just as I dozed off to sleep, he woke me up and asked, “Jennie, what are those ugly things near the light?”(I had always liked that he asked me questions because I was older and supposed to know the answers. I didn’t always know the answers, of course, but I could always pretend I did.) He was pointing to the moths fluttering around the hall light. “They’re just moths, go to sleep,” I told him.

He wasn’t content with that answer, or the moths near his night light, so the next time my Aunt walked by the door he asked her to make the ugly moths go away. When she asked why, he said simply, “Because they’re ugly and scary, and I don’t like them! ”She just laughed, rubbed his head, and said, “Joe just because something is ugly outside doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful inside. Do you know why moths are brown?” Joe just shook his head.

“Moths are the most beautiful animals in the animal kingdom. At one time they were more colorful than the butterflies. They have always been helpful, kind, and generous creatures. One day the angels up in heaven were crying. They were sad because it was cloudy and they couldn’t look down upon the people on earth. Their tears fell down to the earth as rain. The sweet little moths hated to see everyone so sad. They decided to make a rainbow. The moths figured that if they asked their cousins, the butterflies, to help, they could all give up just a little bit of their colors and they could make a beautiful rainbow.

One of the littlest moths flew to ask the queen of the butterflies for help. The butterflies were too vain and selfish to give up any of their colors for neither the people nor the angels. So, the moths decided to try to make the rainbow themselves. They beat their wings very hard and the powder on them formed little clouds that the winds smoothed over like glass. Unfortunately, the rainbow wasn’t big enough so the moths kept giving a little more and a little more until the rainbow stretched all the way across the sky. They had given away all their color except brown, which didn’t fit into their beautiful rainbow.

Now the once colorful moths were plain and brown. The angels up in heaven saw the rainbow, and became joyous. They smiled and the warmth of their smiles shown down on the earth as sunshine. The warm sunshine made the people on earth happy and they smiled, too. Now every time it rains the baby moths, who still have their colors, spread them across the sky to make more rainbows.”

My brother sank off to sleep with that story and hasn’t feared moths since. The story my aunt told us had been gathering dust in the back corners of my brain for years, but recently came back to me.

I have a friend named Abigail who always wears gray clothes. She is also one of the most kind and generous people I’ve ever met. When people ask her why she doesn’t wear more colors she just smiles, that smile, and says, “Gray is my color.” She knows herself and she doesn’t compromise that to appease other people. Some may see her as plain like a moth, but I know that underneath the gray, Abigail is every color of the rainbow.