I sat in my favorite chair in the corner of my living room early this morning, opened the east-facing shades, and watched the night turn to day. I usually sit in that chair in the morning and have a light on for reading. But today I decided to sit in the dark. I even turned the porch light off, so I could see the contrast more clearly. It wasn’t a splashy, colorful sunrise. Just the regular change from dark, to somewhat less dark, to light. And that change marks the first day of spring – the vernal equinox, when in the northern hemisphere, day and night are equal. From here until the summer solstice, the light will increase each day.
There is also a full moon, which is an unusual coincidence. At one point in my morning watch, I walked upstairs to look west out the bathroom window (yes, that’s our view window). I saw the full moon dropping toward the foothills in the west.
I returned to my chair to continue my watch. As I looked east and watched the changing light, I noticed also that the scene changed from black and white to color. When the first light of the dawn pushed away the darkness, the houses across the street looked black as they were silhouetted against the emerging light. The bare tree branches were black against the sky. Then I noticed that colors started to emerge. I could make out the beige and taupe of my neighbor’s stucco home. The red brick on the next house started showing through.
By the time it was fully light I gave up my post of watching. I went outside and retrieved the newspaper from the sidewalk. The dwarf iris that just opened yesterday stood like little purple flags along the walk. Not just light and dark, but color. I needed more light to see color.
As I noticed color this morning, I remembered back to the first time I read Lois Lowry’s The Giver (if you haven’t read it yet, stop here. It is marketed as young adult fiction, but it is for all ages and I don’t want to spoil it for you – I read it first as an adult, when one of my children was reading it in school).
I gasped when I realized that the world Jonas inhabited had no color. It wasn’t until he could see color that we both realized that previously there had not been color.
“We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with differences.” Lois Lowry, The Giver.
Spring is the season of emerging color. The brown, gray and white slowly are joined by green, purple, yellow and the rainbow of colors. The muted, low light of winter is replaced by full sun, hours of it! But before there is color, there is dark and light. Then more light, then color.
The concept of light and dark isn’t just for the natural world. Our spiritual dimension reflects the supremacy of light over darkness. In the poetic beginning of the Gospel of John, we read: “In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.”
Later, we hear Jesus stating, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
In another set of stories, Jesus calls his followers the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14).
Light is essential. Without increasing light, there would be no spring. As a gardener, I think about the elements of growth for plants – moisture, warmth, nutrients, and light. Light is fundamental. For the plants, and for the people.
It’s spring. Let’s celebrate light, and color, and the season of more and more and more!
Note on images: The flower pictures are taken by me in my yard. The bare branches and moon-set pictures are from Pixabay and Unsplash and are available for public use without attribution.