As seasons change, we wake up cool blue, wallow in sallow yellow, forget gorgeous green. But we should remember green, look for “the slightest hint of green.” Dante tells us so. It does not belong to the Green party, environmentalists, or bankers, all that is green. It belongs to those of faith, with hope.
Fall is festive, but green catches you like a shaft of light, unexpectedly lifts you, lucky, inviting, and bright – It says “Go! Enter! Christmas wreaths, shamrocks, apples, moss on fallen trees, change, always hope!”
Why green comes to mind now, I cannot say. Maybe it is wind in Maine’s pines, tickling those intrepid, never-say-die towers of green, always slashing back, defying the elements, as Yankees defied the King.
Maybe it is the way poets think of green, resplendent, renewing, about hope and newness, grabbing and shaking us, telling us to wake up, remember what we know, be what we are meant to be, not what society wants to make us, but the full, unfolding glory of who we are, in fullness of individual liberty.
Wrote one poet: “Green is the fresh emblem of well-founded hopes…In blue, the spirit can wander but in green it can rest.” Before a fight, after fright, in readiness to make things right, green is hope. The Church thinks so, as green marks “ordinary time,” Easter to Christmas, resurrection, hope in each day.
Green is the color of preparation, rest with focus, reaching without reaching, a different angle on hope. Maybe that is why the room you wait in, before a broadcast interview, is “the green room.”
Maybe that is why you sometimes catch a “green flash” at sunrise and sunset, times of hope. Scott Carpenter, Mercury astronaut, told a friend of mine, and he was right. When hot air refracts light and creates a mirage – like water on a hot road – this effect occurs. If the mirage occurs near a sunrise or sunset, as light is dispersing, you can get a “green flash.” Rare, splendid.
Maybe my mind goes to green because our nation needs hope right now, needs power, strength, and resilience that flows – like electricity through a wire – when things reconnect, circles broken are restored, poor connectivity replaced by the power of an unbroken current. Unity does that.
Maybe green pops because hope is rewarded unexpectedly. You may not know the word “triboluminescence,” but the thing is simple – and always green. In total darkness, if you pull tape off something or strike two sugar cubes together, friction between crystals – like static electricity – creates a green spark, just like “bioluminescence,” lighted life on the open sea. Both are things of wonder – and hope – and green.
But green is more than all this. It is hope distilled to a color, reminding us – over centuries and generations of renewal when we get worn down, tired, anxious, worried – about this life and what follows. No kidding, green is the color that surfaces across literature, signaling hope and faith.
Perhaps the most compelling, a reference that long lingers, is from Dante. Do not wander, stick with me. In the second part of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” called “Purgatorio,” there is a haunting reference. From now forward, if you have never read it, you will remember it: “The slightest hint of green.”
What is “the slightest hint of green” – what does that mean? When Dante, humble and timid as superheroes go, finds himself exploring Purgatory, where hope resides after death, he is surprised. Those he knows mortal man condemned while filled with hope and love, are shown mercy.
The thing is not in Man’s ken, but God’s. He bumps into a warrior who, for all his failings, was condemned by the Church. “Manfred,” who Dante thought would never see mercy, does.
How and why? This is the question. Manfred answers. When near death, he saw the “slightest hint of green.” “Horrible was the nature of my sins, but boundless mercy stretches out its arms, to any man who comes in search of it…The church’s curse is not the final word, for Everlasting Love may still return, if hope reveals the slightest hint of green.”
To jump the rail, or widen the lens, Republics – like men and women – go into valleys, face tests and challenges, sometimes stumble, pick poor leaders, worry and then find courage and hope. This is one of those times for our Republic.
Together, we must have the courage to think and act with hope, lift eyes to the far horizon, work hard and strain for the “flash of green,” look to see what lies beyond, listen for whispers in the pines, and know in our hearts there are things divine.
If we do this, rally when the chips are down, know that hope held tight is rewarded, step up in the face of what we see today, and – in every civil way – make our faith known, we will prevail. To borrow from Manfred, credit to Dante, we must believe – seek “the slightest hint of green.” On seeing the green, we know hope and effort, faith and fortitude, patience, time, and work were worth it. We know that – because they are.
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Nice Uplifting article. However, there is one mistake. There is no purgatory!! Hebrews 9:27:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Death be judged…..NAB 1970 cr IMP date 27 July 1970
Thank you Max! v/r, RBC