As I'm driving north on the interstate this morning, there's a remarkable show unfolding just northeast of me. One can look around western washington on any given winter's day see a beauty that can only be described as 'sparse'. It's the beauty of slumber in a way, the beauty of everything having fallen asleep, as if it's waiting for the kiss of some prince to awaken her from a curse. And frankly, the view can be, when you're tired of gray skies, and trees, and fields, and mountains, and even moods... well it can be a little gray.
Many of us, though, adapt quickly, and soon we don't even notice that everything, from sky to earth is roughly the same color, or lack of color. We adapt to the gray world so that it becomes normal, and we get on with our lives; our shopping, buying, selling, loving, hating, fighting, sleeping, and consuming.
Then it sneaks up on us - a morning like this one. The snow fell low last night and the sky blew clear, so that as I'm looking at the mountains ahead of me to the northeast, they're dazzling - dazzling white, against a backdrop of blue. The trees have been suddenly clothed in white and are glistening. The sky has been healed. And the light of the sun behind me becomes a spotlight on the whole show as if to say to any of us who happen to be looking: "Hey there! Look at this. One breath from God and the dullness is blown away like so much chaff in a breeze! Instead beauty, and hope, and celebration. Can you see it?"
Yes I can. There's something awakened in my soul, something which had fallen asleep the same way the landscape had. But more significantly, I became aware of the truce I'd made with grayness. How quickly I'd stopped noticing that the world had become dull!
It's just like us isn't it? We're assaulted one night by Darfur and we can't even eat our supper after watching the evening news because our senses have been so ravaged. But by third night? "Pass the bread please" we say, as the news of rape and pillage rolls off our backs. There are two tragedies in our age. The first is that the world is gray with disease, famine, murder, power struggles that victimize the poorest of the world, pollution that is killing our planet, we're being enslaved to corporations and reduced to units of consumption and production, and so much more. The life is being sucked out of us. We're becoming increasingly colorless.
But the second tragedy is perhaps far worse. We've made a truce with grayness, so that, increasingly, it seems that the things that should make us weep don't penetrate our hardened souls. When this happens, 30000 a die dying of treatable diseases becomes normal. War and the carnage contained in it? The price of freedom. Even more personally: Dinner - TV - sleep - wake - shower - breakfast - commute - work - commute again and on the way home we find ourselves wondering what we'll watch tonight. It wouldn't be so tragic if we knew it was tragic. It's the truce we make with it that's the real pity.
The role of the Holy Spirit, we're told, is to bring conviction of sin. This can happen in many ways, but perhpas the best way it happens it when we see - really see - the colors of the world. When we see peace, and beauty, when we experience good conversation, when we make love and rest in the arms of the one with whom we life and cry - these moments of color will serve to show us just how much of a truce we've made with gray.
Thank God for snowcapped peaks, reflecting sun off their crystals, with a backdrope of azure. If we look long enough, we can see the landscape an invitation to pick the pallet and begin to color the rest of our world too.