advent apertures 2019: Blue Christmas

Evening says to night:

“Are you always this beautiful under your clothes?”

Night says to the moon:

“All day I dreamed of you but I couldn’t bring myself to call.”

The moon says to sleep:

“There are doorways in the dark.”

Sleep says to dawn:

“As if forward were the only direction!”

Dawn says to early morning sun:

“Sing sung sun”

Morning says to noon:

“Trees also do research.”

Noon says to early afternoon:

“Builders and dreamers need to listen to each other.”

Early afternoon says to late afternoon:

“I am becoming possible.”

Late afternoon says to the setting sun:

“Tell me about the texture of fire.”

The sunset says to the twilight:

“In a circle there is no beginning or end.”

Twilight to the first star says:

“Thank you for your light.”

First star to evening:

“Thank you for your dark.”


J.Ruth Gendler


The circling tone of light during the day is something that often preoccupies me, especially on days when I am just ‘stuck’ in bed, watching the light shift as I try to read, to listen to an audiobook or to scribble a doodle.  I watch it change across my bedroom walls as the seasons change too, and I find the lack of light at this time of year particularly difficult.  But celebrating the December Solstice with the feast of Blue Christmas has changed my attitude (if not yet the physiological effects of SAD).

Blue Christmas is the feast for all those who find Christmas difficult, for all those who are grieving, lonely, suffering in body, mind or spirit; for those who are homeless, poor, refugees, exiles, prisoners.  For many, the shortest day can be the nadir of hopelessness and bleakness in a season of general darkening.

But if the shortest day is the ‘bluest’ day in terms of my mental health, by practicing turning my focus outwards towards others who are also feeling ‘blue’, I can project compassion instead of depression into the world- no matter how I might personally be feeling that day.

Because I then get wondering, what kind of blue does it feel like today?  If one doesn’t  really think about colour much then that question might seem nonsensical; but there really are cool blues and warm blues, and every tone of blue will reflect light differently; every tone of blue will elicit a different emotion in the viewer.  Yet, crucially, how I react emotionally to one tone will differ vastly from how a friend might react to exactly the same tone. 

To say therefore that the ‘blue’ that sums up how I am feeling today is not the same as the blue my neighbour may be feeling might sound obvious, but the distinction is important, and goes way beyond the limitations of language.

To me, the feast of Blue Christmas is about remembering the multiplicity and infinite variety of ways humans experience blue, and use the word blue to describe unique internal states and infinite fine gradations of emotional association.  That I can only see blue because of the nature of the spectrum of light itself is a cause of wonder in me.  It is the light that makes it possible for that day’s tone to shimmer, no matter how much excruciatingly pain-filled struggling that blue expresses.

My blue is not merely blue to God.  The God who comes to experience the blues of humanity will not see my blueness as a humdrum ordinary tone, a blurred indistinctness easily overlooked. By Grace, my blue will no longer isolate me, but become connected to every other blue in the spectrum.

An encounter with the Living Light transfigures my blue into impossible colours I cannot yet conceive; colours that will burst forth from me, reflecting the Light of the Possible One into the blues of others. 

What I call blue will become a precious part of the very ingredients God needs to call forth the Impossible in me; to help heal the blues of the one next to me.


Dear Morning

you come

with so many angles of mercy

so wondrously disguised

in feathers, in leaves,

in the tongues of stones,

in the restless waters,

in the creep and the click

and the rustle

that greet me wherever I go

with their joyful cry: I’m still here, alive!


Mary Oliver

singing the hot blues (bl)singing the hot blues. iPhone image.

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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