It is amazing how I can wear a white shirt once and the collar is dirty, while a dark colored shirt I can wear repeatedly and still looks clean.

Professional researchers on color have some definitive findings, from clothes, to cars to houses. For inside walls, satin finish in eggshell is hard to beat. Dirt camouflaging colors are found to be dark shades of brown, grays, warm reds, purple and burnt orange. The finish on any color seriously effects appearance- absorbing or reflecting light.

For autos mid-tone pewter, gray and silver are best for being dirty, yet not showing it. Black is the worst color and white is also a poor choice.

We human beings are constantly on our guard to avoid showing OUR DIRT – our true color. As with our clothes, walls and cars, dirt happens to our person. Such personal dirt is often shameful, embarrassing, damaging and even sinful.

Being caught with ring around the collar may carry some embarrassment, but nothing like being found morally dirty, such as being a liar, a thief or an adulterer. Covering up our personal selfishness, sin and evil – keeping our best foot forward – can be a preoccupation with any of us. There are things in all our lives that we want to “sweep under the carpet”, hoping not to allow our “true color” to show. Our reputation as assessed by the observation of others can be a real concern. Our social standing is according to the judgment of those with whom we associate.

We all practice techniques for not showing our dirt. A guarded conversation about where we have been, who we encountered, or what we did, might be practiced by any of us. It is interesting how cleverly deceptive we can be showing a personal “color” that does not disclose anything pejorative – avoiding anything that might sully our image in the eyes of others. “Lily white” is how we all like to appear.

Although desiring this impeccable image, revered and esteemed, it has to be purchased by a long standing record of “dirt-less appearance”; cautiously concealing anything about ourselves that would seem or possibly be interpreted as “damaging or questionable”.

Unfortunately with our weakness in loving others, many of us readily speak evil (“dirt” – disclosing faults) of others. Since such discovery and disclosure of other’s “dirty laundry” makes for very interesting conversation, the bearer of such defamation is given the honor of many attentive ears. Surveys indicate that most people are unable to keep new-found gossip (dirt of others) to themselves. Although this lack of love for others by broadcasting their faults is usual and frequent, it is a rarity that such a gossiper has the integrity and strength to disclose their own faults, sins – personal dirt, with self-love far outweighing love for others.

Choosing not to love one’s neighbor as one’s self (as in spreading gossip) is shameful and sinful, a defiant opposition to the basic tenet of moral living.

Treating others like we want to be treated requires admitting the need for divine help. To be godly we need God.

Refusing to love is just about as filthy-dirty as we can get. May we allow the divine power to enable us to step before the mirror and see our true non-camouflaging color; admitting and removing our dirt. Can we be authentic, not a façade? May goodness be our true color, ceasing the need for a color that will not show dirt.

The Rev. John Burkhart, Ph.D., is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology; he can be contacted at or visit his blog at inspirationsandideas.

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