March note from Dri: Complementary Colors

The month of March feels like a bit of an oxymoron this year. On the one hand, we are experiencing an early spring with relatively warm temperatures. Things are budding. The promise of newness bursts forth around us. For those of us who struggle with winter, this time is life-giving. If I were to assign this feeling a color, it would be bright yellow.

On the other hand, we are in week three of Lent, a penitent season where we remember our own mortality and abstain from excessive or self-indulgence to limit ourselves as Jesus did for 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. We fast to allow us to hunger that we might seek God alone for our satisfaction. And if I were to assign this season a color, I would have to go with the traditional dark purple.

How might we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory things? Yellow and purple, are after all, opposite one another on the color wheel. How do we both celebrate the new life that is coming out of the ground and observe the somber season before us? I don’t pretend to know the answer fully. But holding these two things in juxtaposition has caused me to stop and ponder what is really to be celebrated or lessened. And to wonder if these two ideas really are at odds after all. 

The arrival of an early spring that brings so much joy to my heart is actually quite a simple thing. It is not elaborate or excessive. It brings to mind my mortality as I ponder the quick life cycle of a daffodil that has bloomed for but a few weeks before it withers and returns to a dormant bulb in the ground. It reminds me to limit myself from other distractions that would make me miss the beauty of the Creator displayed in His creation. The nice weather encourages me to spend my time in ways that honor God; admiring His creation, in prayer and contemplation. It’s somehow easier to refrain from the rich and hearty foods of winter when the sun is shining. 

So maybe, an early spring, in fact, harmonizes our penitent season of Lent? Maybe it eases the difficulty and buoys our desires in a way that continued winter may have squelched us. Maybe the celebration in my heart is actually a recognition of the simplicity that Lent calls us to, and a relief from the burden of “all the rest” we are called to lay down for these seven weeks, as we prioritize worship and find satisfaction in God alone. Perhaps yellow and purple complement each other after all.