Intern Minister's Messages
- Published Date
The Grays of Winter
January’s landscape is a tableau of gray—gray tinged with hues of all the colors of the rainbow. During a thaw this month, mottled gray patches of old snow spot the ground. The yard is strewn with twigs from winter storms—not quite black, a charcoal gray. The sparrows and chickadees are gray. Dark brown-gray thickets of bare trees thin out to black-gray outlines of branches against lavender-gray clouds. Deep in the pines, a dark green-gray stillness beckons. When we look out the window, almost nothing is all black or all white. Rather, we see a sea of grays everywhere.
Life is like this, too. While some experiences feel certain—black and white, if you will—a whole lot more of our reality hovers in the realm of gray—what the dictionary defines as “a color intermediate between black and white, as of ashes or an overcast sky.” So much is in constant flux. Our thoughts, rarely still, sometimes flit from one idea to another with impossible speed, and other times they slowly evolve, as when we gradually begin to see something in a new way. Even when we feel stuck in indecision, in a relationship or in a difficult problem, no one moment is just like another—we continue to unfold in the process.
Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron writes about our continuous changing and becoming in a January blog post called “Heart Advice”:
“Becoming” and “evolving” sound gray to me. On the edge of our hard-held opinions, is there an edge of gray, a place of openness to other ways of seeing? Sometimes we lose touch with someone for many years and consider them gone, our relationship a thing of the past. Then, someone’s smile, or a dream, or a story reminds us of the person again and in some way that relationship continues in us. Even when someone dies—what could be more black and white?—surely our reality of them continues to “become” and “evolve….”
Artist Cynthia Chatis contrasts “the whole black and white business with the yummy grays in the middle.” As we take in the grays of this time of year, let us find spaciousness within our selves to appreciate the yummy grays in the middle, to be with what Pema Chodron calls “the transitional, in-process quality” of this gift of life.
Betsy Tabor is UUCR’s Intern Minister.