rainbow-world

A friend sent me a dress this week. It’s a beautiful shade of purple-blue – really it inhabits the borderline between these two colours. It reminds me of flowers with beautiful scents, sweet mysterious fragrances growing stronger at nightfall. The texture of the fabric is delightful, a satin smoothness combined with the roughness of shot silk (though it isn’t made of silk). I love the way the dress is lined with orange fabric – interesting in light of the last-but-one post about complementary colour pairs – orange and blue are complementary on the colour wheel. Also the buttons all down the dress at the back, from neck to hem, a lovely stylish touch.

I saw a tree this afternoon that stopped me in my tracks, intrigued me and also, a little, made me wince. It was in an otherwise unremarkable front garden in a respectable middle-class street. The trunk and every branch was covered in twirling bark. It positively writhed with the gingery-coloured stuff! Instead of being covered in and protected by a neat casing of bark, the tree had all its insides, outside, so to speak – everything was on display! A visual demonstration of the phrase, ‘letting it all hang out’. The twisting, twirling inner-bark (to coin a phrase) made the tree look vulnerable, exposed, and like the tree equivalent of a perpetually emotionally struggling, very needy human being.

As I walked on I realised that those of us who are prone to ‘letting it all hang out’, need to supply ourselves with some ‘bark’ sometimes.

Self-restraint and buttoning one’s lip at times are one kind of ‘bark’. Another is the ‘garment of praise’ we read about in the Scriptures. (‘A garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness’.) I couldn’t wait to try on my new dress from a friend – with it on, I felt like a new person. I’m so grateful to God that sometimes all we need is to make a decision to put on the lovely and noble things, and immediately, we will feel and act like a new person.

Reflecting the deeper truth that in Christ, we genuinely are ‘new creations’.

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As spring unfurls, I am aware of how much greener the world is gradually going to become over the next few months. Not long now till we change the clocks. As I write, I am looking at a robin who keeps hopping up from the lawn onto the bare branch of a birch tree. Another is hopping around the edge of the garden pond. Both have orange-red chests so I wonder if they are rivals, with adjoining territories.

For me, robins are associated with winter, and I’ve found it poignant, this morning, to see a symbol of a season that is now my favourite, at a time when the seasons are changing. I love the calm and stillness of winter and the invitation it seems to bring to stay reflective and thoughtful. It feels a wrench to move on into spring, and yet that season brings with it the expansiveness associated with looking outward and connecting with the wider world – and its crying needs.

Last night I penned words that could be used as the basis for a worship song. I imagined sunshine lighting up dew in a summer meadow at one point – see below. Something inside me must be looking forward to summer, after all.

These words are addressed to Father God.

All my sunshine
changed into tears.
Then I turned to you
and you dried my tears again
with the better-than-the-last-time
sunshine of your love –
hope renewed afresh
with life and health.

Ever-renewing
never-exhausting
your love is a miracle.
Deep unto deep calls
power from your mercy seat
strengthening my weak places
filling me with awe.

Your warm acceptance
shines through my tears
like the radiance
of a dew-soaked summer morning.
I can never fully thank you
for all the grace you send my way –
it beautifies my life,
it’s life itself.

Ever-renewing
never-exhausting
your love is a miracle.
Deep unto deep calls
power from your mercy seat
strengthening my weak places
filling me with awe.

Plan A for this series of posts was to write about prophecies and prophetic prayers. However, this has proved more difficult than I anticipated. I am realising what a private and personal thing these kinds of revelations from God are. Tying in this theme with the colours of the rainbow would probably be the easy part – far more difficult, would be sharing these kinds of ‘whispers from the Lord’, openly.

However, perhaps I’ve learned something through attempting to write in this way. Today I’m writing prompted by a photograph of catkins – and this has made me realise how much God may want to speak to us through ordinary, natural things, that rarely are our ears attuned to hear.

The colour yellow is a warm, simple, straightforward colour, although at its green ‘edges’ it can be harsh and dramatic – I’ve heard lemon yellow described in these terms. Recently, I attended an exhibition by the artist Paul Hobbs. He had produced three paintings in which he’s attempted to encapsulate on canvas, the three ‘things that will endure’ – faith, hope and love.

The ‘Hope’ painting is made up of a mass of triangles, because, he explained, hope in order to be hope, must point towards something. There is also a squiggly red line – it has a sense of freedom and fluidity – again, expressing a sense of movement. The dominant colour of the painting is a gentle shade of yellow. It’s a little darker and less naive-looking than primrose yellow, not as ‘sturdy’ as custard yellow, and definitely not cold or harsh at all, like lemon yellow. I am finding it hard to describe, but perhaps sunshine yellow mixed with ochre might not be too far off the mark.

Somehow this painting did make me organically experience a sense of hope. The ‘Faith’ one, mauve/purple squares – ‘because faith is built up gradually’ – affected me in the same way, but with ‘Love’ I am afraid I parted company with the artist in his conviction that red/pink has to be the colour for love. For me, a shade of off-white or cream would be just right for ‘Love’.

All this makes me realise how fortunate we are to live in a world of colour. ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ is a question children often ask each other. A young male relative of mine (aged four) takes great pride in naming his favourite colour – or colours as it often is. Some things in life, are areas where God wants us to choose and He delights in our free choice.

I wonder if God ever enjoys being surprised by us. I suspect he does. If a father gave his teenage son a selection of paint-pots and asked him to paint the shed, would he necessarily be gratified if the son asked him dutifully what shade he should choose? No, I suspect he’d look forward to walking down the garden path, wondering whether the son had made a good job of it, and also wondering what colour he’d selected. I can picture the smile on the father’s face as he said to himself, ‘Ah, that’s what colour you chose – interesting!’

I’m going to divert from the theme of prophetic prayers for this post.

I was thinking about colours and how they stand for different character traits, and different moods. Yellow speaks to me of simple happiness, and I’ve heard it described as the colour that relates to ‘self’. Purple on the other hand is widely recognised as a royal colour. Blue is associated with purity and with spiritual things – it’s also an airy colour, that one can sometimes experience as cold. Orange on the other hand, is a lively, outgoing colour.

I got to thinking about ‘colour pairs’ – the complementary ‘opposites’ so familiar to people in the world of design. There are probably an indefinite number of such pairs, but the well-known ones are: red-green, orange-blue, and yellow-purple.

I feel these colour pairings, or complements, can help us in daily life. When we’re in danger of becoming too thoughtful, abstract, and what some Christians term super-spiritual – in a ‘blue mood’, though not in the usual sense of that phrase – we need an infusion of the ‘orange’ mindset. A bit of vibrant, down-to-earth and slightly cheeky good humour and fun! (These are qualities I associate with the colour orange. Surely there isn’t a less serious colour than orange, apart from, possibly, pink – but then pink is so emotionally intense.)

Likewise, if you’re in danger of becoming a little too sedate and overly dignified (a purple state), perhaps you need to shift towards ‘yellow’ to balance yourself out. For those with a tendency towards frivolity, they need to ‘think purple’ when they are starting to get a bit silly and superficial.

Lastly, red and green. Well we all know people who could do with just sitting beside a stream surrounded by lush green meadows, from time to time. People who ‘see red’ easily, who are surrounded by pressure and who generate plenty of pressure all by themselves. Green is the natural colour of most of the world, and I think of it as the colour of life. A down-to-earth shade that is peaceful and restful to look at. But we cannot just think ‘green thoughts in a green shade’ to quote the well-known Andrew Marvell poem. So, if you’re finding yourself becoming a little too passive, the trick is to inject the ‘red’ qualities of vitality and virility into your life. I think I am warming to my theme….

The theme I’ve chosen ‘this time round’ (see ‘About’ for an explanation!) is ‘prophecies and prophetic prayers’. I thought I’d begin this post with a prophecy a woman of prayer told me, early in the process of my cancer diagnosis and treatment. (I am suffering from breast cancer, but thankfully, everything seems to be going fairly well.)

This lady was praying for a number of people in our church who had difficult, seemingly insoluble, problems in their lives. God then gave her a series of images, a ‘movie’ inside her head – it was rather a disturbing one. She was in a bullfighting arena like those in southern Spain, where this tradition still lives on. She watched as a fight took place between matador and bull. As she watched, God asked her, what will happen? Disturbed by the goryness of the scene, she was perplexed how to respond.

This is the answer God gave her: ‘The bull must die. Whatever happens, however much of a resistance he puts up, the bull always dies.’

Suddenly, illumination came to her. She realised God was telling her, whatever situation you face, whatever you’re up against, you need to believe deep in your being that that problem must come to an end, and be dealt with as God would desire.

It’s not a very palatable image, and I’ve just realised that the ‘red rag’ doesn’t come into the vision my friend had – but red blood certainly does come into the picture….

Sometimes the pictures God gives us are pleasant and delightful, others less so. This belongs to the latter category, but it’s memorable perhaps because of its very unpleasantness. We certainly have a variety-loving God.

I chose this photograph because the scene, I feel, has a freshness, and also a reassuring solidity, about it. A creamy rose strong and sturdy at its centre, surrounded by fresh leaves in a summer garden. The sun is not shining in full strength, although there is enough light to give the scene a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere.

This seems apt for my theme this post, since renewal and new life are at the heart of the biblical story of Naaman.

In the Old Testament, we read about a man suffering from leprosy, Naaman, a captain in the Syrian army. He was healed – but it took a blow to his pride to bring about his healing.

In Naaman’s household, serving his wife was a young Israelite girl, a “little maid” captured by the Syrian army. Feeling sorry for Naaman, she suggested he visit “the prophet that is in Samaria”, who would be able to bring him healing. The King of Syria became involved, and through a letter to the King of Israel, Naaman ended up at the prophet Elisha’s front door.

Naaman was told to bathe seven times in the Jordan. This he found greatly frustrating. He was, after all, a man of valour with a string of military successes behind him. He was obviously the “doing” type, and perhaps was rather nationalistic to boot. He reacted by questioning Elisha’s instructions. “If bathing in a river is what it takes to heal me, then there are two perfectly good rivers in my own country” is his retort in a nutshell. Not only that, but he didn’t get (until he asked for it, in a rage!) any face-to-face contact with the great man he had come so far to see.

Thankfully, Naaman’s servants were wiser than he was. Thank goodness for servants who were prepared to speak out, is all I can say! The little Israelite maid although extremely young, no doubt, thought outside the realm of her duties, not only noticing Naaman’s situation but coming to her mistress with the solution. Now it was Naaman’s servants’ turn. They asked him, if Elisha had asked you to do something big (“some great thing”), wouldn’t he have done it? Instead of refusing to do this simple thing – “Wash, and be clean” – he should be even more eager to carry out such a straightforward and easy instruction. Naaman heeded their advice, bathed in the Jordan, and was healed and thoroughly converted to the worship of Yahweh, the God of Israel.

After Naaman is healed, he is described in this way: “his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean”.

Naaman puts aside all dignity based on his own self-worth, and enters into humility. His flesh becomes like a child’s and he must surely have emerged with a childlike mind and heart, as well. (I feel that the rose, above, conveys that sense of simplicity – not the most elegant, dramatic or eye-catching flower, yet it has something of a child’s trusting quality of openness about it.)

Children have been referred to in both these posts about dignity. Perhaps dignity is something we shouldn’t really seek for ourselves. But true dignity does come to us, once we’re firmly rooted in the love of the Creator God Himself. King of Israel, King of the present world, and King and Creator of a new heaven and new earth yet to be revealed!

Indigo and Violet.

Recently, I witnessed the transformation of a beautiful flowering bush, in the garden of a family I have been visiting. This shrub (a Russian sage) has spires of bluish-purple flowers, and is a bit like a more abundantly flowering, and softer (ie not at all prickly) version of lavender. It was looking great, and then we had an afternoon of really heavy rain.

Afterwards, the bush was a comical sight. Utterly bent over, the stems grew out at a right angle, lying virtually horizontal. By the next day, however, its natural dignity had been restored. The flower stems were growing normally, reined in more tightly to the bush’s stake. The ‘gardener of the house’ had pulled the prone stems vertical, a surprisingly heavy task because of how well the bush had been thriving, and re-tied it with string. Maybe for the shrub, an even more undignified process than the initial trampling!

Comedy is so often connected to loss of dignity. The phrase ‘things going pear-shaped’ implies there is something silly-looking about something perfectly spherical, that suddenly sags. Things going wrong and out of shape, speak to us of lack of control, and make us smile, too.

The Biblical David was accused of lacking dignity, one day when he danced joyfully before God, by one of his wives. He danced with wild abandon in praise of the Lord, but his wife Michal despised him in her heart. As a result, she was unable to bear children. The incident spurred David on to vow to be ‘yet more undignified’ in praise of His God.

Perhaps whenever we allow regard for our own dignity, to stand in the way of the creation of something beautiful and glorious, we are playing into the enemy’s mindset of barrenness. If a child wants us to play-act at something rather ridiculous, if we forget ourselves and our adult dignity for a few minutes, we will be the richer for the experience.


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  • Carole: Beautiful!
  • Amy: Sounds like a beautiful color and dress. And I would love to see a picture of that tree! I do love trees of all kinds, and you make some great points
  • Amy: What a beautiful poem or song to God, love it! We're exciting to see spring here up in the northeast after a long, cold, snowy winter! Blessings, A

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