Noticing Purple

With an Ignite blog deadline looming, I woke up on Sunday morning with some inspiration from The Colour Purple. You might remember this film from a few years ago, based on the book written by Alice Walker. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in the 80s and StevenSpielberg made it into a film a while later. One of the characters, Shug Avery, is an Africa-American woman who lives in an abusive relationship. And in the midst of the suffering and difficulty and stress she finds herself in, she says this remarkable statement:

“I think it pisses God off when you walk past the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

What an extraordinary insight. The beauty of this colour but we don’t see it. We walk right by it. We take a little part of creation for granted. We don’t notice itbecause we’re distracted by so many things that debilitate and demand our attention. Sometimes it’s hard to be present to the details of life around us. Or present to the people around us. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience of being at home in the evening with the people who mean the most to you and your body is at the dinner table, but your mind is somewhere else completely. So often we are just mentally wound up, wrestling over things in work, our minds skipping ahead worrying about the next day or ruminating about regrets that drag us back into the past. Meanwhile the details of the present moment, the shades of purples if you like, are passing us by. So in this lockdown I’ve been thinking about what it is that I’ve noticed that I perhaps didn’t before (funny that Wendy led us with that exact thought just a few hours later at Ignite on Sunday). Here are a few of the things that have captured my attention:

Before my porridge every morning (I’m a creature of habit), I like to loop around the same stretch of neighbourhood. And I’ve noticed these gigantic trees on Silchester Road with thick trunks and sprawling branches. Trees like this outlive the normal human lifespan and remind me of the fragility of my life.

Like many, I’ve noticed the birds and their beautiful songs, giving Pavarotti a run for his money.

I’ve noticed my neighbours for the first time since moving to Glenageary Park. Perhaps I was too busy to stop before.

I’ve noticed how when I water my plant (gifted by Adelah!) the soil seems to soak up the liquid, like when you take a long gulp of cold water on a hot day. And I suppose it struck me more deeply that this plant really does have a life of its own.

I’ve noticed that the smell of coffee when first opened is so full-bodied and intense! SO it’s not just coffee breaks with Fiona I look forward to now. It’s taking a deep inhale of the coffee grains beforehand.

I’ve noticed the colours of the fruit bowl after coming back with groceries supplies – oranges, apples, bananas, kiwis and grapes – such vivid colours (including purple!). And I’ve noticed an urge to grab more at the supermarket than we need because it spooks me to see empty shelves. But the reality is we have an abundance of food – even in a pandemic – and it stirs me to think and pray of vulnerable places like Zimbabwe and Yemen and Venezuela.

As I walk in the morning I pray the Our Father and I’ve noticed one line that I haven’t really pondered before:

‘And deliver us from evil.’

It’s the ‘us’ that I’ve been paying attention to. At Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead in that garden tomb, God launched a new project. It was a project of renewal and restoration. A project to establishing a new way of being human in the midst of a violent world.  A project of light breaking into darkness. This is the hope of Easter that inspires me to pray the ‘deliver us from evil’ line with more faith. God’s Kingdom has been breaking into this world and establishing itself for over 2000 years and it still is. But because of evil’s snares, it is sometimes hard to trust that this is in fact true. So I pray that this world will be delivered from Covid-19 and its many other diseases, delivered from violence and greed, delivered from abuse of our creation to the abuse of our neighbours and ourselves.

Lord, deliver us from evil.

And may we notice your Kingdom with ever more insight, anticipation and joy in the midst of this lockdown.

These are some of the things I’ve been noticing. What about you?

One Response to “Noticing Purple”

  1. Marie

    Hi Matthew – what a beautiful blog – I could nearly see you processing as you took notice and pondered. This is the true action of a contemplative heart – one that notices, is present to, and sees the unity in all things and in all people – the immanence of God. Thank you Marie

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