When it’s time to paint your front door, choosing a color can be a big decision. Do you go with traditional or bold or trendy? Do you stick with white or black or make a statement with bright blue or red or teal?
My wife and I were at the house of some friends not long ago, talking about remodeling, previous and planned. We brought up some projects that we’d completed at our house, including painting our front door. After a lot of Pinterest searches we’d settled on a deep, dark blue-green that the paint company called “obsidian.”
Our friends’ front door is yellow. But it isn’t just any old yellow. It’s yellow with a story. Our friend told us that the door was that color when they bought the house and they’d decided to leave it that way. “Do you know the poem ‘The New Colossus’?” she asked. While the title sounded vaguely familiar, I had to say “No.”
She went to the door and took a framed print off the wall, and there it was—the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus as a tribute to the Statue of Liberty. Oh, yeah, that “New Colossus.” Cast in bronze and hanging inside the statue’s pedestal, it ends with
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Our friends have worked overseas and now minister here to refugees, some from the part of the world where they used to serve. Gold is their statement color. They want visitors from all over to know that they are welcome in their home.
In February of last year I wrote about the global refugee crisis in “Why I Don’t Pray for the Syrian Refugees.” Since then, the number of people worldwide forced from their homes has grown even larger, in part due to the tragic civil war in Yemen. At the end of 2015, as reported by UNHCR, there were 65.3 million people displaced by war or persecution. At the close of 2017, that number had risen to a record high of 68.5. That includes
- 40 million displaced inside their home countries
- 25.4 million refugees, and
- 3.1 million seeking asylum
I guess here’s where I could ask a challenging question, such as “What color is your door?” But my asking might be a little hypocritical, what with my door being obsidian and all.
Instead, I’ll just let the question in this song be the challenge, for you . . . and for me.
“Figures at a Glance,” The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), June 19, 2018)
[photo: “yellow-giallo-jaune-gelb,” by vavva_92, used under a Creative Commons license]