Shades of Green

"For still there are so many things

that I have never seen:

in every wood in every spring

there is a different green."

J. R. R. Tolkien

Green is the color of growth, the color of Spring. All around the city you see the deciduous trees budding. Never mind that the evergreens were there first. The deep hunter green of the fir trees is offset by the fresh green that you see in a thousand little nodes on each budding tree as it reaches for the sky. Better take notice, because that fresh, bright shade of green doesn't last for long. It's like it's glowing from the inside. As an aside, there's a Polynesian myth that talks of trees having rejected their father the sky in favor of mother earth. The myth has it that the branches are the feet pushing the sky away as they grow up (down?). It's backwards, but then again, that's why it's a myth. Oh, and it's not a tree unless it's over twenty feet tall. If it's less than that, it's still a sapling, or a full-grown species of shrub. Just not a "tree".

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Psalm 1:3) Speaking of fruit, the oak tree doesn't start producing acorns until it's fifty years old (!).

Green is also the color of faith. So many shades, from bright sea-foam, to kelly, to deep olive drab. It's all green. It's all faith. It's growing. It's funny how the phrase "green" means "undeveloped, untested". I guess there's contradiction there. If your "green" faith is "green" then it's untested faith. That's the thing about faith, though. Faith must go through its inherent trials in order to grow. And when you don't see any growth above ground, know that it's spreading below. The roots are branching out. Every tree you see, know that the root system is at least twice as large as the crown above. That's what pruning is for. To cause the roots to strengthen and grow. Conversely, look at the redwood. Hundreds of feet high and yet the root system is a mere eight feet deep. You'll see a copse of redwoods and all of the roots are interlocked. That's how they can be so tall and yet stay upright. They help one another. The correlation, if you didn't already see it, is that we, as brothers and sisters in the Lord, are to keep one another upright. Our roots are supposed to intersect throughout the busyness and seasons of our lives.

"The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand." (Psalm 121:5)

We as humans have a tendency to think that other shades or hues of green look better than ours. We deal with the whole "grass is greener" notion in everything from jobs to partners to locales and everything in between. The key to seeing our particular shade of green in the best light is to remain grateful and content.

And to realize that we're growing in God's shadow.

It's fun and funny to observe the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Whereas it's a day of somber reflection and penitence in Ireland, it's seen as a joyous celebration of Irish heritage in America. And that's by those who are Irish. Those who aren't (like me), wear green so as to either fit in, or not get pinched. I really wish I had a more substantive reason than that. But I can't say I do. It does help that I like green and have many green things but notice this. Something as insignificant and innocuous as wearing green in honor of a day you don't really know much about is amazingly widespread in society. People of all ages and walks of life conform to "the wearin' o' the green". I'm not decrying it one bit. What I am saying here is that if we can come together on something so minor for one day, just think what we could do in the larger and more long-running arenas.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!