And here I thought my favorite color was blue…
It started three years ago in a dream. I had just jumped out of thin air to find myself in a dreary, run down part of town. What seemed like an abandoned, empty parking lot lay in front of me, filled with weeds and potholes, lined with yellow paint. Old, congested apartment buildings stood nearby. Decaying cement and spattered thickets dressed the landscape. The day sky was overcast.
For some reason, I couldn’t walk into the “parking lot” area in front of me.
Almost instantly, it began to rain acid. From all around, people ran into an old, nearby building for shelter. Not being afraid, I stepped out into the acid rain and cried to the Lord, “Shine on us! You love us! Shine on us! SHINE ON US!” I kept repeating my cry until tears filled my eyes.
At last, I pointed somewhere in the sky and shouted, “Shine on us!” and the clouds in that spot broke open and the sun began to show. I pointed to another spot, then another. The rain stopped and sunlight began to pierce the darkness throughout the sky.
Finally, a “second sun” appeared behind one of the cloud breaks—ten times brighter than our sun and whiter than the moon. Then I woke up.
It was a dream too vivid to ignore and too impossible to forget. But what did it mean?
About six months later, I found myself in Hong Kong, walking along the river near Sha Tin. I came to a particular bridge when the Lord spoke softly in my head, “You can cross this bridge.”
“I know I ‘can’ cross this bridge,” I responded in my head. “I ‘can’ also keep walking straight.”
“…or,” the soft voice continued, “you ‘can’ cross this bridge.”
Rather than elaborating on the powerful, inviting nature of possibility, I’ll just say that I crossed the bridge. A few steps later I froze. It looked exactly like my dream!
The river had narrowed to one small stream in a vast, cement bed, filled with cracks and weeds, lined with a yellow railing. The surrounding trees and buildings, the clouds in the sky—I dreamed about this place not even knowing the place was real.
No wonder I couldn’t walk into the “parking lot”. I only saw 2-D in my dream. It wasn’t a parking lot at all. It was a dry river bed and I had just crossed it.
Three years later I found myself back in Hong Kong. It was a Saturday and the soft voice of the Lord said, “Read Joshua 1:11 and remember.” I knew of this verse, but not all the details. Interestingly, it doesn’t say, “Jordan River,” but, “this Jordan.”
“…Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, to possess it.” Joshua 1:11b, NASB 1995
Three days… That put this on Tuesday. Sunday and Monday were thrilling, but for another story.
Tuesday night, after finishing my main errands in Hong Kong, with a verse to obey, and little else to do, I saddled my pack, crossed a road named Jordan, and headed north toward the place in my dream. At the Starbucks on Jordan Road, I bought a mug to commemorate the event, an orange mug with a rounded bottom, and a big circle on the side, inside the circular handle. It matched my other Hong Kong Starbucks mug at home.
Hong Kong’s MTR (subway rail) had a stop not far from the place of my “river dream” at Tai Wai—at least that’s where I thought it was. Not sure where to go, and not recognizing the place in the evening sky, I wandered toward the river, feeling mostly lost. In the dark, I came to a bridge and the soft voice whispered, “You can cross this bridge.”
“Yeah, I know I can,” I replied, “but I have no idea where I am, and I don’t want to stray too far from…” There it was, the same bridge from three years ago. Since then, I’ve called it the “Can” Bridge—different from Cambridge.
Still not recognizing much on my path in the dark, I wandered until things became familiar. At a couple points I stopped and prayed, rather than walking and praying as I had been. I knew my way to the MTR station by now, but, having gotten lost, I wondered: Was this the same MTR station? Indeed it was. And, though I had been lost, I was back where I started.
On the ride home, I pulled out a map to see where I had walked. Lo, I had walked in a big circle, with a nifty dash top left—made by dots connecting a line between the two places I paused to pray. In the middle of the circle was the name of the city, same as the MTR station: Tai Wai.
“What does ‘Tai Wai’ mean?” I thought to myself. “Tai” means “big”, as everyone knows after a month in Asia. Fueled by curiosity, and empowered by a Chinese dictionary, I discovered that “Wai” means “circle”… “Big Circle”…
That night, I accidentally walked a big circle around “Big Circle”.
But that’s not where the story gets interesting. So far, I had many coincidences, but no explanation. The next day I went back into Tai Wai to understand more about this circular circle, before having dinner with a friend in the evening.
Five hours I walked and saw what there was to see in this land I dreamed about. It was almost as Bruce Wilkinson describes in The Dream Giver when he first finds his “big dream”. It was like Israel entering the Promised Land—not instant wealth, but plenty of possibility, I suppose. The streets were lined with local merchants and small shopping centers. The outskirts towered with family homes and several schools. The place lay in a bowl within in the hills, near the very center of Hong Kong.
After my first hour of exploration, I made my way back to the MTR station. “Someone will give you a flier with a message for you,” the Lord whispered in my head a few days earlier. “Make sure you take it so you can know.” No sooner had I remembered this than I passed Tai Wai station and a lady handed me a flier, which I didn’t want. But, maybe it was a message of sorts. Maybe it could explain what all was happening. I took it, read the cover, and chuckled.
“Walking Man 3:16″ it read across the top with loud colors. The background was orange. The back side had a sidewalk much like the river I had walked along, and the sky had been filled-in with a shining orange design. Orange… Hmm…
The only thing that seemed to stand out that day was the color orange. It was everywhere! I took a few pictures to illustrate. It was strange indeed.
I grabbed a snack at a McDonald’s where a mother sat down with two children, both wearing orange. After my snack, I enjoyed some pages of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Golliath—a book with letters that were orange, marking my place with a receipt from two months back that happened to be orange, which I carried in my back back that I recently bought on sale, the last one in stock, which happened to be orange, and my computer case I got a year ago, the only one that fit, with an inside liner that just so happened to be orange.
The bathroom doors happened to be orange. The outside of a house at the T section of a large street was painted orange. The wall of a small shop had a picture of a giant orange. Scarves, coats, and gadgets that sat on shelves typically had a single item shining bright orange.
Shop owners seemed to favor sales stickers that were orange. One watch among the normal watches had a face that was orange. One pair of glasses sat in the front row of a display and its frame was orange. Unlike other parts of Hong Kong, some bricks in this sidewalk were orange. Flair on buildings were occasionally orange. LED tickers, rather than the usual red or some other color, were orange. Often, someone would walk in front of me with a coat, bag, or hat that was orange—a real head scratcher.
As if there wasn’t already enough “orange” in my day, the Lord’s voice, a little less soft, said, “Proceed up that street, stop in front of the McDonald’s and wait. Your friend will call you soon to meet you in the evening.” Seeing many more things along the way that were orange, I made my way to the McDonald’s where I waited and praised the Lord for inventing the color orange. After two minutes of orange praises, my phone rang.
“Jesse, sorry I’ve been so busy today.”
“That’s okay. My day has been interesting enough. You’re call is right on time.”
“See you in an hour,” he said as we finished our call. So, I continued walking.
A candy wrapper lay on my path—it was solid orange. On the sidewalk sat a bicycle, painted orange. On a table sat a tipped over paper cup that was orange. A sign with orange Chinese letters, read in English, “Shine Baptist Church”… “Shine”. That’s what I prayed in my dream.
I soon met up with my friend and the orangeness only continued. A lady passed an orange bench, wearing a coat that was orange. Supermarkets were selling oranges at their entrances. We passed a television showing a music video that was mainly orange, and displayed the word “shine”. All the restaurants were backed up. We came to a tunnel that was orange, took it as a direction from God, went down the tunnel, and found a restaurant with open seats. The sugar packets were red and yellow, which, combined, make orange.
I took a taxi with two men, coming home from the airport, each had a suitcase that was orange, one of them a coat that was orange, as were the souls of his shoes. And the inside of the phone that I used to take all these pictures has a frame that is not black, but orange.
In memory of my orange visit to Hong Kong and the big circle, which I accidentally walked around a small city named Big Circle, I designed a shape resembling my random walk, printed it on paper colored orange, and made my own Starbucks tumbler. I figure this might help me reflect and consider what to make of this orange, big circle.
Four years ago, the color was green. It started when a friend gave me an expensive designer helmet. “Do you like green?” he asked.
“Not especially,” I replied. “I prefer blue.”
Perhaps he misunderstood.
“Okay! Here’s a green helmet from my job. My boss gave it to me to give away.”
Not long after, on my first visit to Hong Kong, I came across a green watch in a side-street shop. “Does it automatically track Daylight Saving Time?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “But you can push this button to change it yourself. Just push the button.”
“Just push the button!?” I thought. Why can’t the watch update Daylight Saving Time for me? But… he was right. I was way too picky.
“You sold me,” I said. “Because you convinced me to change my thinking, I’ll come back in six months and buy that watch.”
Sure enough, after six months, I went to buy the green watch. I loved it so much I emailed my friend about it. He ordered the same watch online and, two years later, we met up in Hong Kong, both wearing the same green watches.
We walked to a particular place on a river, tucked away in the heart of Hong Kong, that I had seen in a dream. The shoes I wore had green insoles. In my apartment, today, sits a suitcase lined with green, given by another friend, on my green floor, with two green chairs.
What does it all mean? Maybe green was the color two years ago and orange is the color now. Maybe God is reminding me of my Irish roots. The Irish flag is green, white, and, of course, orange. I’m still not sure what to make of it, if I’m supposed to make anything of it at all. But it sure has my head spinning in a “big circle”.
As I sorted photos from the recent Hong Kong “orange-venture”, only showing about 10% of the orange things I encountered, I stumbled across a photo from a year ago.
My boss had given me a small orange, which I found to be naturally beautiful. I held it in my hand, grabbed a picture with my orange-inside phone, filtered out the other colors, and posted it on Instagram and 500px.
The next day I showed the picture to my boss as an appreciation for the orange. “Why take a picture of it?” he chuckled. “It’s just an orange.”