Sunday, November 27, 2016

A pale tint of azure

Once upon a time I had an Advent-blue dress. Maybe the shade was closer to navy than to Advent candle blue. It was pretty basic, from Land's End, with long sleeves and a hem below my knees--the kind of thing you buy to dress up by adding a scarf or a necklace or, you know, "something great." Not that I owned something great to dress it up with. Mostly I put it on and was relieved to be covered and ready for church in something that looked presentable and required no ironing.

I walked into the choir loft one Sunday in Advent wearing that dress, and the organist said, "Look at you in your Advent-blue dress."

Or did he say "Advent-blue gown"? Maybe he did, because "Alice Blue Gown" is a thing, or was a thing when it was a hit song in 1919. The Alice-blue gown belonged to Alice Roosevelt Longworth, oldest daughter of TR. Alice blue is actually quite pale, an icy evening gown color. Or the paler tints of blue in this, from Wikipedia:

AP97 ice floes (3422931129).jpg
By michael clarke stuff - AP97 ice floes, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

My Advent-blue dress is long gone, out of style and too big for me now. So this morning's Advent blue was navy pants and a merino cardigan in a bright navy. Tonight at my house, there's a dark blue tablecloth on the dining room table and an Advent-blue Christmas runner on the table next to my chair. The cowl and ear warmer I knit last weekend of blue handspun are lying around waiting to be worn for the first time.

And the kitchen table holds two boxes of blue lights I bought this afternoon which are destined for the backyard fence sometime in the week to come.

Where am I going with all this? I don't think it's about seeing blue, or liking blue, or decorating with blue. What's really going on is I'm feeling blue and wondering what to do with that in the longer-than-usual Advent ahead.

"O wie selig, muss ich sein," I sang this morning in church in a bit of Bach. "How blessed must I be, when Jesus comes and lives in my heart" ("Öffne dich" from BWV 61, Nun komm der Heiland Heiden). It was an excited little aria whose elegant ornamentation I should probably keep right on practicing. No blues there. Well, maybe in the relative-minor B-section--with a text that says something about "though I am but dust and earth, Jesus does not scorn me."

Despite the Advent-blue at church, the navy blue in my closet, the deep blues on my table, the hope in my heart is Alice blue this season—"a pale tint of azure," says Wikipedia.

It's a slight shimmer above dark waters, light bouncing off crags and challenges, glittering and gone.  You wait for it, you watch to see. It is distant and wary of easy answers.

And yet that blue light, the light of blues, is the light of Christ, thanks be to God.

(Note to self: new dress for Christmas?)

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