I started painting. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for. Not that I really have the time; I just decided that it’s now or never. (I’ll never do anything for myself if I keep waiting for the right time to make it happen.) And so, here I am, a novice painter.

I look at an object . . . and what do I see? I see a color and a shape. I look at my tubes of paints. I have all the basics: blue, yellow,Would you have expected to find so many colors and shapes in a hand, a sleeve, a finger? green, red, orange, white, purple, black and green. I decide to paint my hand, so I examine its flesh tone. Look at your hand. Try, if you can, to replicate its color.

I mix red and orange, white and yellow. Hmm, I see that I actually need a bit of blue and a bit of green. The peachy flesh consists of more colors that I ever imagined—and this is just the color of a hand!

Now for the simple white sleeve of my shirt. Who knew that to get that color I need purple, black and blue?

Look at the shape. There are curves and angles, lines and circles. I see a finger of rectangles and triangles and squares.

Would you ever have expected to find so many colors and shapes in a hand, a sleeve, a finger?

Think about all the experiences you go through. There are dark moments of black and purple. There are exciting moments of orange, yellow and red. There are calmer moments of green and blue. Some moments mixed together to make brown, some make pink or turquoise; some make gray. Even a clear moment or experience is a mixture of many things.

Colors, so many colors. You paint and you realize that your painting isn’t complete without a variety of colors.

The trees blossom, and the air, full of pollen. The landscape, full of color. It’s springtime, and once again, that means Passover is knocking on my front door. And I ask myself the same thing every year: “Are you ready?” No, I’m not talking about the cleaning, shopping and cooking. I’m not talking about the meal or the checklist of things that we need for the seder. I ask myself: Am, I, Elana, ready? Am I ready to see the variety and depth of all the colors behind the Masterpiece called Purpose, the Masterpiece called Life?

It was 13 years ago, Passover time, when I sat down with a full, pregnant belly. My son (who was born a week later, on the seventh day of Passover) was doing somersaults inside. We began with the portion of the Haggadah that is Maggid (retelling the story of the Exodus): “This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt . . . ” We pointed to the matzah.We—my husband, guests and I—asked (for we did not yet have children) “The Four Questions” about why this night was different than all other nights.

We continued with the recounting. “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt” . . . “In the beginning our fathers served idols; but now the Omnipresent One has brought us close to His service” . . . “And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river, and I led him throughout the whole land of Canaan . . . “And he [Jacob]went down to Egypt,” forced by Divine decree. “The Egyptians treated us badly and they made us suffer, and they put hard work upon us.”

I stopped. Why on this night—this night of redemption andCan we just talk about the good? freedom and hope, a night of protection and faith—why on this night do we have to bring up all that painful part of our past? Can’t we just talk about the good, be happy and move on?

I patted my big belly. The child inside didn’t come so easy. It came with many tears and failed treatments. It came with years of injections and countless hours spent waiting in doctors’ offices. All that was thankfully behind me. I patted my belly, and I realized that the tears and the failures were an integral part of the story. They were colors in the Masterpiece of the making of this beautiful child, no less than the colors of joy. These are the complex and multiple colors of life.

Now I sit at the seder table and the emotion that approaches us—the emotion of my son’s bar mitzvah, his reading of the Torah in a week’s time—intensifies and grows. And I ask myself: “Elana, are you ready?” Are you ready to sing on this special night? To sing praise to G‑d—not just for the salvations and the miracles that we experience on a daily basis, but for the dark colors that help us identify and make contrast to the bright light. Are you ready to see the whole picture—to appreciate all those beautiful hues and tones? Are you ready to recognize that black is as much as part of the Masterpiece as white?