Light Incarnate


As I watch the sky and the earth meet at sunset, I can’t help but feel, somehow, left out of the immensity of it. I am right there, but not welcomed into the display I see around me. If I let the scene soak in, it is as if I am drawn out of myself, dissolved. This beauty is missing something I cannot supply without exhausting my soul. With the sun gone, these colors are no longer embodied, but bleed outward, with my soul in tow. The hue-less night approaches and gently coaxes me to abandon the support of my senses.

So, I look inward to explore why this impression is so strong.

I find that, what I missed in the fading sky, was the green of foliage, forest and field; the comfort of home, with all of its closeness and contour. In my  outward gaze upon the brilliance of the sunset scene, green had been the first shade to fade into shadows. Even my soul’s urgent efforts would fail to fill the void. People look for a green flash at the moment of sunset. But that flash dawns only personally in the eye of each beholder. We create it out of ourselves, and take a special delight in naively asking others watching; “Did you see it?” But it wasn’t out there to share. It was missing; merely something that rose suddenly in the soul for balance, the moment the sun finally ceased to distract within its brilliance. With a spot of green, we attempt to fill the void left by the sun in our own eyes, but we cannot bring it to earth substantially.

Nor is it ever substantial above the earth. There is no green in the open sky. Where the warm hues at the horizon approach the cool hues from above, we might expect green to arise, as it does in the artists palette. But it doesn’t. There is always a gap, a span of colorlessness, where both the yellows and the blues brighten to white. Like opposing magnets, they do not touch… not without an added squeeze.  The sky, alone, cannot bring about the color, green.  I may have to be content to wait for the morning sun to re-illuminate the world of plants.

It is fitting that plants are green. They inhabit the thin crust between the Earth and the Heavens. They find their perfect poise between the darkness of matter and the lightness of spirit. They fill the pale void in the spectrum that we struggle soulfully to fill when the sun sets. Plant life so thoroughly fulfills its position that it actually creates the soil beneath and the atmosphere above. It employs the minerals of the earth and air, and the radiance of the sun to provide sustenance for the rest of life on Earth. Green is its expression and its signature. Just as they are the perfect complement to the animal world, plants are also the soul’s great counterpart.

We might simply glorify green as “The Color of Life” and leave it at that, were it not for the memorable glow of green at the very core of the rainbow itself. This celestial display always beckons us to pause and fill ourselves with a satisfaction that comes of its un-Earthly perfection. And yet, what principle of life could possibly give rise to this green?

Though we might long for green, in the unconstrained limits of the open sky, there is nothing there that urges the fruitful wedding of the warm and cool colors. But in a rainbow, sunlight must pass through the lens of a billion droplets of rain. Here, it is squeezed, ever so lightly, by their physical confines; Just enough for green to be born. If all the other colors are the pure interplay of darkness and light, green seems to be a miracle that takes the pinch of matter to incarnate.

But there is another living connection here as well: Just as the green flash at sunset is created and centered in the eye of the soul, characteristically, the whole vast arc of each rainbow is centered personally between the eyes of its own beholder. We too, hold a center for the incarnation of green, at the core of our individual being. That the sun-drenched plants bring down this living color, and reflect it to us, is only part of the picture.

Where green arises, I find my completion, the light of my soul, incarnate.

7 thoughts on “Light Incarnate

      1. Sue Vincent

        I will look you up there too. Mine are of course all over the place now, with the School’s launch imminent.

        I made a very similar point.. though briefly and not as beautifully, this morning.

        Awareness makes the difference between living and existing, I believe.That sacredness runs through every iota of life and being, just waiting for us to notice.

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