Washing out my palette, old, dried watercolors unused in these past two years, mixing, circling, draining away. Taking memories steeped in color. Feelings awash in hue. Plans that glisten in colors of hope.
Today, Payne’s Gray seems an appropriate color to wash this troubled world. It makes the most sense in these days of cautious and reactionary perspectives, yet I know that within this gray I could add a dab of Opera Pink that would remind me of life that continues to grow and thrive within the dark, a flashy point of freedom, abandon, joy. And if Opera Pink seems too harsh, we could even offer Permanent Alizarin Crimson, or Lemon Yellow, to quicken our heart. Gray has purpose and consequence; it is gray that allows the pure hue to shine.
I remember the day I thought gray covered my life as the infant I birthed was close to her death. Forty-one years later, I remember her entire lifetime of seven days encapsulated in one moment of color. Driving home after seven days in hospital, we arrived at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and River Boulevard. As I look up toward the bluffs of the Mississippi River I gasp in awe at the green before me. Green searing into my heart. I weep with shock and joy for these vibrant colors that I forgot existed. Permanent Green Light, Sap Green, Olive, Phthalo Green Blue Shade, all dancing in the bright late summer light of mid-day. I shield my eyes. It is more than I can fully absorb in the moment.
The gray of my mother’s death surrounded another color that was transmitted, Permanent Rose. The gentle days sitting vigil with chanting, then washing her body, honoring her with rose petals. The color rose brought me to a journey of my own heart opening.
My father’s death brought me to a soft green as being with him in his final days brought healing to my life, a balance and harmony to body and mind that I could not previously experience with him.
My sister’s death brings a variety of colors of joy through red, purple, yellow, and pink. Even within her gray years with Alzheimer’s she could radiate her giggles, her inner trickster, her sweet hugs.
Our world is awash in color but somedays we only see the gray as it is now in my part of the world with winter not having heard that spring has arrived and the skies and land are soft brown, and cool gray. If I look closer, I detect Raw Sienna, Cerulean Blue, Raw Umber, and Burnt Sienna. There now is the brilliant red of cardinal on the blue-green spruce. He brings a smile.
It is understood that we all see the same color differently. We each bring our own experience of color, our own unique perception of the refraction of light and more to the way we experience color. Possibly today is the color of calm. Maybe power and strength. Colors can bring a feeling of intensity or sadness, joy, and freedom. So many expressions of emotion.
On this day, might we bring a bit of green for healing, the yellow of happiness and hope, the rose of compassion, the violet of inner peace, the red of love, the orange of vitality, the purple of creativity, and not without a bit of black for mystery, just to round it out.
“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
“It’s okay to show off all your colors.”Luis Guzman
“The rainbow is a part of nature, and you must be in the right place to see it. It’s beautiful, all the colors, even the colors you can’t see. That really fits us as a people because we are all the colors. Our sexuality is all the colors. We are all the races, genders, and ages.”Gilbert Baker
“The first challenge in writing about colors is that they don’t really exist. Or rather they do exist, but only because our minds create them as an interpretation of vibrations that are happening around us. Everything in the universe—whether it is classified as ‘solid’ or ‘liquid’ or ‘gas’ or even ‘vacuum’— is shimmering and vibrating and constantly changing. But our brains don’t find that a very useful way of comprehending the world. So we translate what we experience into conepts like ‘objects’ and ‘smells’ and ‘sounds’ and, of course, ‘colors’, which are altogether easier for us to understand.” Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
On Going Resource List
- The Soul of Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks
- Keep Going by Joseph M. Marshall III
- Arriving at your own Door by Jon Kabat-Zinn
- The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
- The Hidden Secrets of Water by Paolo Consigli
- Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran
- Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
- Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
- I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown
- Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chodron
- When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
- On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
- Unattended Sorrow by Stephen Levine
- Joy in Loving, Mother Theresa
- The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
- Let Your LIfe Speak by Parker Palmer
- Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Essence of the Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran
- Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through The Ways Of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson