Color and light

Recently I saw a gorgeous rainbow, a double rainbow! I don’t see rainbows very often, but when I do, they capture my attention. Scientifically they are the result of light being split into its various colors as it passes through moisture in the atmosphere. Experientially they express something of the magic of light.


Photographically speaking, light can be challenging. While strong overhead light is wonderful for being outside and enjoying the day, it creates strong contrasts between light and shadow–a challenge for the photographer. A soft, overcast day is much better for capturing nuances of color and detail.


At this time of year, as leaves are turning to their fall colors, light passing through and reflecting off the leaves creates an experience of intense color–yellows, oranges, and reds in a fiery display of nature’s glory.


Two thoughts about this experience strike me. The first is that the foliage which for most of its existence blended into the landscape is now, toward its end, afire with individuality and beauty. The second is that without light the magnificence of these colors would not be seen. Is there a parallel in our human experience? Are we called to be aflame with our own colors, and do we appreciate the light which makes it all possible?


“Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you… While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:35-36)

1 thought on “Color and light

  1. Fr. Perry, You wrote, “Are we called to be aflame with our own colors, and do we appreciate the light which makes it all possible?”

    In the entrance to the Jesuit headquarters in Rome, there’s a statue of St. Ignatius. At the bottom of the statue, there’s an inscription that says the words Ignatius said to Francis Xavier and his companions when they were leaving for India: Ite Inflammate Omnia (“go forth, and set the world on fire”). May we all set the world on fire with our own colors!


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