by Rev. Joan Kessler
If I were to ask what your favorite color was this morning, I wonder, how many of us would respond with Blue? Blue is a most popular color, and there are a few hundred different shades of it in the artist’s palette. This primary color, like all colors we see, is produced by a wavelength of light that reaches our eye and blue apparently are short. In the living world, beneath our red-like atmosphere, blue is the rarest color. There is no naturally-occurring blue pigment found in nature. And consequently, only a small portion of plants bloom in blue and even fewer animals are found to possess this rich color. The color appears with thanks to the various tricks of chemistry and the physics of light. The blue jay for example, has tiny, light-reflecting beads arranged on its feathers to cancel out every wavelength of light except the blue. The Morpho butterfly can be described as shimmering light-blue mirrors, essentially covered with miniature scales ridged at precise angles to bend light in such a way that only the blue portion of the spectrum is reflected to the eye of the beholder. So, for us to “see” or perceive blue to our eyes, intricately designed features of plants and animals have occurred.
Wassily Kandinsky, the Russian painter and art theorist of the late 19th and mid 20th century, describes blue as peaceful and supernatural, a deep and “typical heavenly color”. The lighter its shade, the more calming it is. When in the end it becomes white, it reaches absolute calmness. Kandinsky’s theory states,
“…color is the means of exercising direct influences upon the soul. Color is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer, while the soul is a piano of many strings. The artist is the hand through which the medium of different keys causes the human soul to vibrate.”
Further to this, Kandinsky theorized color not only was appealing visually, it also represented sound and vibration:
“In music, light blue is like a flute, dark blue like a cello, and when still darker it becomes a wonderful double bass. The deepest most serene form of blue may be compared to the deep notes of an organ.”
The heat wave from this past week has had me reflecting on this serene and cooling color. Every morning I looked to the cloudless sky to see varying shades of blue and I’d have a very good sense of what they day would hold in store temperature-wise. So perhaps today’s somewhat sleepy reflection is about noticing… all the wondrous shades of blue that are only made visible due to refraction and reflection of light waves. The beautiful imagery of The Blue Hour brought me a much-sought reprieve from the heat. The day ends. The night falls. And in between there is the blue hour. The animals come out to experience the cool after the heat of the day. It is not something we can control nor manipulate, it is all ordered in its own way and divine time. As the pages turned we saw the Morpho butterfly spread her blue wings, the arctic fox robed in his blue-tinted coat, scores of silvery blue sardines glimmering just beneath the surface of the blue ocean. My hope for today’s message is to reach our sensing places…the heat has blanketed me this week and it has affected my sleep and resulting thought formulation. But despite the red heat this week, I have been noticing blue and how it seems to have a divine quality about all its many shades. There is something in the science of blue and its unique refractions of light that makes it a most holy and auspicious color. Author Rebecca Sonlit in her book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, explains that the sky is blue because light at the blue end of the spectrum is scattered by air molecules as it travels from the sun to us. And she also writes:
For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go.
The color Blue is a yearning… it surrounds us yet alludes us all at the same time.
Blue and Psalm 104 remind me of the miracle that is creation. The Psalter sings…
The moon keeps track of the seasons, the sun is in charge of each day. When it’s dark and night takes over, all the forest creatures come out. The young lions roar for their prey, clamoring to God for their supper. When the sun comes up, they vanish, lazily stretched out in their dens. Meanwhile, men and women go out to work, busy at their jobs until evening
As forest fire season unleashes its fury after too much heat and drought, we pray for the created order we have been given stewardship of. We hear this psalm with a view to our world leaders who will need to make changes that may see our daily living drastically different from the privilege and freedom of choice we currently enjoy… we pray for the cool blue colors of our natural world to surround us in calm and peace… that a blue hour may sneak in upon us with the fading of the sun beneath the horizon, and bringing with it cooling night breeze… how wonderful is our creation, Holy One… May these reflections of mine give God as much pleasure as God gives me… as I notice the color blue, the color of life and its varied ecosystems… May I relish the cooling and calming temperatures of the Blue Hour, to notice the creatures that understand this rhythm of the day’s ending… on this hot and sleepy Sabbath, may I notice and give thanks for the blessing of this diversity and the wonder of Blue.