Do you have any ombré fabric, like the one in the picture? If you work with fabric, or are a beautician, the word ombré is probably familiar to you. If not, here is the definition (emphasis added):
Ombré: having colors or tones that shade into each other – used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from dark to light.
Here’s another interesting word fact. The word ombré comes from the Spanish (or French) word, hombré, which means man.
Let’s just hold onto those facts for a moment, I think they will be interesting later.
As the Lenten season draws to a close today, I find myself in a reflective mood. In fact, that’s understating things. I’ve been holding several related ideas in my mind for about a week now, trying to find a way to use words to pull them together into a coherent, concise, and useful blog post. However, my thoughts are spiritual in nature, and things of the spirit often defy human language.
Unless God leaves clues.
The clues I’ve found so far are in the definitions of ombré and hombre. Keep them in mind, and let’s just see where this goes.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Christian tradition of Lent, it is the 40-day period before Easter, a season of self-reflection and repentance, a time for re-orienting oneself toward God. This is the first year of my adult life that I have seriously observed Lent. I’m not proud of that fact, I only say it so you know where I’m coming from. My ideas may be old hat to those of you who have been regular church-goers for many years. I, however, have just returned to regular church attendance after a long absence, and I am moving toward God with fresh eyes.
Like everyone else observing Lent, I’ve found a lot to reflect on. Why share my reflections? Because I often find myself deeply moved by a word or two that someone else says. Just a murmur, a nuance, a word spoken in passing. If I could manage to find a word or two that touches you, dear reader, isn’t that worth the titanic struggle to find the right words? Of course, it is.
And so, Lent. Even before the Lenten season began, the spiritual theme of moving from darkness to light seemed to follow me everywhere.
It started with the fabric.
My state quilt guild announced the annual quilt contest theme: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. My first thought was a vision of a three-tiered quilt of sorts, with Adam & Eve in the garden, graduating to a modern rural/city landscape, graduating to an outer space scene. I found the perfect ombré fabric (above). I love how the fabric, and the quilt vision moved from light to dark literally (I wanted the dark for the space scene), while the piece moved from dark to light figuratively. Sadly, I didn’t have time to get the quilt made, but I still think it’s a stellar idea.
Next, the girls and I began reading The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it is a masterpiece, one of the true classics. It begins with Dante, our protagonist, finding himself in a dark wood, realizing he has gone the wrong way. He sees the light (literally and figuratively), but cannot get to the light easily. He must go the hard way. But God sends him a guide, and off he goes. The book is divided into three parts, in the order of Dante’s journey: to get to the light, Dante must traverse through hell (Inferno) and purgatory (Purgatorio) before getting to heaven (Paradiso).
I did not read Dante when I was in school, so I feel lucky that we homeschool and I’ve finally gotten a chance to delve in. It’s a thoughtful Christian allegory, beautifully written. I didn’t choose the book because Lent was starting (or did I? hmm), but I have found it thought provoking. Here’s the two most important notes so far:
- The Divine Comedy is not a “comedy” in the modern sense. Today we think of comedy as light humor. Not so for Dante. The term comedy applies because the protagonist moves from the darkness to the light – essentially, he starts in despair but has a happy ending.
- Early in the book, Dante discovers that human reason is not sufficient to get one to heaven. Human reason can only get you so far. Without divine help, humans cannot reach heaven.
We’re still ‘in progress’ with the Inferno: we’ve only made it to the eighth circle of hell, but so far, so good.
(Homeschool rocks. I mean, seriously, I get to talk about our progress through hell as a good thing. How often is that going to happen?)
In addition to the quilt and homeschooling ‘darkness to light’ messaging, I have also been taking a New Testament class at my church, in which we have taken a good look at the gospels and, wow. I must say, if you (like me) thought you knew all you basically needed to know about religion/Christianity from what you learned when you were a child in Sunday School, please think again and give the bible a try. Revisiting the bible this past year has been extraordinary. Jesus did not come to judge, condemn, or shame us. He came to rescue us.
Because human reason can only get you so far.
Because of my church, I myself have moved from darkness (resisting, misunderstanding) to light (gratitude, accepting God’s gift of grace) these past few months.
But wait, there’s more.
I sat through several beautiful sermons at my church that were centered on God’s grace. Three points, from two separate sermons stayed with me:
- Sometimes we stay in the darkness because we are more comfortable there.
- God’s grace, forgiveness of our human wrongdoing, is a gift. You can’t earn your way to the light through good works. But you can have the light, anytime you choose.
- Gratitude is evidence that you are moving from darkness to light. We are grateful to God for his gift, and so we do good works to show our gratitude and share the light with others.
Remember the definitions from the beginning of the post?
Ombré = hombre. Every man, every life, moves from darkness to light.
But you must choose the light. Every day. And sometimes it’s hard because it’s uncomfortable, and you find yourself preferring the darkness. But, like Dante, you must wake up when you’re in the dark wood. You must learn to recognize the darkness, and leave it behind.
My advice? None. Each must come to the light on his own. But I hope that you will accept the gift of my witness here to make your own move, should you find yourself in the shadows.
In peace and with prayers,