The Color of Believing

The Color of Believing
Lent 35

It is an often-asked question: “What rhymes with orange?” It is a party question as well since there are no common words in the English language that rhyme with “orange”. From the Spanish “norange” which came from the Sanskrit nāraṅga which meant “orange tree” (the fruit, not the color), the name was given to the yellow-red color of the fruit of the tree. Prior to the naming of the color, it was simply known as yellow-red.

Orange is the color of adventure and social communication. The color orange is considered to be optimistic, sociable and extroverted. Odd, you might be thinking, that such a sociable, extroverted color has no common word rhyme. There are two proper nouns that rhyme with orange. They are “Blorenge” is a mountain in Wales, and “Gorringe”, which is the last name of the US Naval Commander who discovered and named Gorringe Ridge in 1875. There is one common word that, while not actually the real word, is an abbreviated form often used which rhymes with orange. It is “sporange”, a shorter form of the word sporangium which is a reproductive sac found in plants, a seed sac of sorts.

Orange is a color many decorators try to use when designing restaurants. Whether as apricot or terra cotta, the presence of the color orange can stimulate a sense of well being among guests as well as encourage social interaction and increase the appetite. The first orange trees were brought to the Western Hemisphere by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage, a voyage that certainly bespoke of hope and the desire to further communication with the new lands previously discovered, a voyage undertaken in the faith that what was once found could be regained.

Vincent Van Gogh, the famous Dutch painter once remarked “There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” Van Gogh often lamented that painters were considered to be crazy if they saw as colorists what others did not. The majorities of (painters), because they aren’t colorists, do not see yellow, orange or sulphur in the South (of France) and they call a painter mad if he sees with eyes other than theirs.” None of us see exactly as our neighbor. Our eyes operate individually and a great many things play into the visions we see, some of those things being affect by our own individual and personal health.

It is a fact that we also seldom, if ever, see a pure color. Water is a great example of this. Said to be colorless, water is portrayed as having blue tones. Many believe lakes and oceans appear blue due to the surface of the water reflecting the color of the sky, the blue that Van Gogh said could not exist without yellow or orange. Some light will hit the surface of the water in large bodies such as lakes and oceans and then be reflected back directly but most of the light will penetrate the water surface and interact with the water’s molecules. The water molecule then will vibrate in three different modes as light hits it. The red, orange, yellow, and green wavelengths of the light are absorbed so that which we see contain the remaining blue and violet wavelengths and we “see” the water as being blue.

How we are taught often determines what we ourselves absorb to be truth in considering religious or spiritual matters. The person who is open to possibilities will be able to learn of new colors, much like a surface which reflects many things. We need to determine what works best for us but, as Van Gogh lamented, we should not call another crazy just because they “see” another palette.

The act of tolerance has become much like a rhyme for the color orange – impossible to find in everyday life. Robert Green Ingersoll once defined tolerance: “Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” Marvin Ashton believed in the power of tolerance. “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.”

We make look at the rough skin of an orange and think the entire fruit is like that. The rind has a distinctive odor but is bitter to the taste. Look inside the orange, though, and we find a soft, sweet-tasting fruit. The rough exterior hides a wealth of nutrition and goodness. It may not have a great many rhymes but it definitely has many purposes.

Our fellow man and woman is much like that orange. We will never know the colors of their soul until we view them with tolerance. We will never know their contributions until we give them a chance to grow, develop, and flourish, opening up their potential to the world. Our beliefs should afford everyone the opportunity to bloom. They should not stifle or become reasons to kill.

Tomorrow we will continue our discussion about orange, the color of water, and the potential mankind has if we would but open our eyes in communion instead of closing them tightly in fear. Felix Adler explained: “The truth which has made us free will in the end makes us glad also.” Those that seek to imprison not only the body but also the minds do not live their faith; they act because of their fears. Adler continued: “A human being is not to be handled as a tool but is to be respected and revered.”

We find the sacred in our lives, we connect to the hope and social feelings the color orange evokes when will affirm those principles of our faith, when we find the sacred in the everyday things that reflect our living. Is there a chance for the reflection of hope that orange brings in our world? The great boxer Muhammad Ali believed there was. “Our only hope lies in the power of our love, generosity, tolerance and understanding and our commitment to making the world a better place for all…” Without the yellow-red of orange, the respect that its social qualities encourage, we simply walk alone. The true color of belief is in the sacred vision we use, the respect we give to all living things.

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