day 4

… judging from the scripture of the season, Christmas is surely meant to be an attitude toward life, not a carnival. It is meant to be arrived at slowly and lived succulently. Christmas is not meant to be simply a day of celebration; it is meant to be a month of contemplation….

Advent is an excursion through scripture meant to give depth and emotional stability to the days for which there are no songs, no tinsel, no flashing lights to distract us from its raw, tart marrow.

Joan Chittister, Thanksgiving 2017

A month of contemplation of life’s ‘raw, tart marrow’, does not sound either joyful or appealing.  Yet if I am to understand anything on this journey into joy, I need to be clear about my intention.  I wish to become a ‘JoyPilgrim’, exploring the nature of the One who is Joy, the One who brings joy to me in all the ups and downs of my everyday here-and-now, the One who longs for my days to be joy-filled in a world saturated with grief and uncertainty.

So I need to get curious about looking for where joy might be revealed, and what the colours of joy might be.  I want to pay attention to what colours block the light of joy in me.  Which might I reflect back to help someone else’s day?  I need to scrutinise my colour blindness.  I need to peer into the shadowed places where I have camouflaged the places of deep shame and loss, even from my own sight.  I need to examine the cultural frameworks which have directed my understanding of colour thus far, and challenge the easy shorthands of symbolic meanings in their differences.

For there are miracles of colour happening in the nature all around me.  They might be a source of joy for me, as yet unseen. Dr Helen Czorski brought to my attention the fireflies in the Smokey Mountains, whose mating displays in May and June are showers of pinprick colours, where the male creates its own personal colour in order to attract a female, making their bodies become physical lanterns of light.  If I have eyes to see, one of the smallest species on earth might show me how life harnesses light.

May my lifelight shine in my colours today.

Blue sky … is a flag that signals … high-intensity light and, therefore, optimal conditions for photosynthesis… Blue means a lot of work.  The trees get full as they convert light, carbon dioxide, and water into supplies of sugar, cellulose, and other carbohydrates … the colour of organisms and objects is dictated by the colour of reflected light.  And in the case of leaves on trees, this colour is green… But why don’t we see leaves as black? Why don’t they absorb all the light?  Chlorophyll helps leaves process light … however, [it] has one disadvantage.  It has a so-called green gap, and because it cannot use this part of the colour spectrum, it has to reflect it back unused … What we are really seeing is waste light … Beautiful for us, useless for the trees …  The colour gap in chlorophyll is also responsible for another phenomenon: green shadows … shadows are not all the same colour.  Although many shades of colour are filtered out in the forest canopy – for example, very little red and blue made their way through – this is not the case of the “trash” colour green.  Because the trees can’t use it, some of it reaches the ground.  Therefore the forest is transfused with a subdued green light that just happens to have a relaxing effect on the human psyche.

Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees (227-230)

reflection. iPhone image.

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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