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Monday Photo Meditation: Building In the Blue

Our chance of rain today is supposed to be slim, but they said the same of yesterday, and we were blessed with two quick but heavy storms.

Our skies of late have been leached of color — much closer to what Crayola calls “Sky Blue” than our more usual cornflower and lazuli shades of summer. The puffy white clouds birth themselves anew each day, and eventually grow into towering thunderheads, but they are at least as likely to go around us as to deliver any much-needed rain.

Still, like the clouds, were are building in the blue: hard at work beneath sunny turquoise skies, planting, cultivating, more, with faith in the spirits’ cooperation at bringing down the rain and delivering us, at least a bit, from this record drought.

In some traditions, blue is the color of faith: of fidelity, of loyalty. The deeper the belief, the darker the blue, perhaps a nod toward ritual structures of leadership. Or perhaps the person who decided that this color should mean that concept simply favored blue above all else.

I tend to believe that the former guess is closer to the truth, but for reasons so obvious that it renders them obscure. We humans are a literal bunch, the sorts of beings whose entire worldview tends naturally to end at our own noses. What we perceive is how we imagine life to be, at both its most ontological and its most epistemological. In other words, we are creatures of confirmation bias who view the universe through the narrow lens of our own immediate, so-called “empirical” perception.

What lives above us? The sky. What dwells within it (at least according to a great many faith traditions)? The spirits, God, one or more deities, the dust of creation itself. What color is it? Ah, this is the tricky one, because here, at least, it can range from white to silver to gold to amber to copper to coral to rose to every conceivable shade of blue to green to purple to gray to black, depending on time of day, season, and weather. But we spend out time abroad beneath open skies, generally speaking, during the daylight hours, and absent dawn, dusk, or storm, they are during those hours most likely to be blue.

And so in the way the human mind (at least in some traditions) tends to comprehend notions of hierarchy, the spirits, those who lead and those we follow, those to whom we owe fidelity and faithfulness, dwell above us in the heavens . . . a place built of shades of blue.

Overthinking it?  Not really. There are whole philosophies and sciences of color theory now, but I always come back to more fundamental explanations expressed in far simpler terms: We understand the universe in the way that we perceive our world.

And so blue becomes the color of the sky (even when it’s not); the color of the water (even when the reflection can’t change it from a mossy green or muddy brown); the color of the rain (which is transparent, or perhaps might be said to be silver in the light).

And for us, rain is most certainly a gift of the spirits, a blessing, especially right now.

We see the clouds building in the blue, not because they are told to do so, but simply because it is their way. We are more recalcitrant; given the choice between work and play, most of us would, if we are honest, choose the latter. We labor because we must, because it is how we ensure our survival, and sometimes we need to be bribed even into that much effort. But that work is grounded, too, in faith: faith that our labor will bear rewards, both now and later; that if we work hard, we will not merely survive but thrive; that if we live according to our ways as they have been given to us, our lives will be blessed with abundance sufficient unto our needs, and so will those of our future generations.

And so while it may not be our nature, we follow the example of the clouds in the summer sky: building in the blue.

The greater, more obvious rewards may not be immediate, but I feel compelled to note one fact: We are still here. In the face of recent history, that suggests that we should have faith in our construction skills, too.

~ Aji









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