On Language and Color

The complexity of color is bewildering. Each thing in our world is a play of energy consisting of electromagnetic waves flowing in different frequencies. All the colors of the spectrum are present in each thing of  this world, but all the colors are unseen because the object – the thing itself –  absorbs those colors.  The one color that an object rejects is the color in which  we see it dressed.

In other words,  foliage is green because it has absorbed yellow and blue and all other colors in the spectrum, but has rejected green. So, it is in this rejection of green that we see the foliage as green.

I have recently visited places drenched with color,picturesque places brimming with light. I have tried to understand the complexity of color with the similar complexities  of  a language, which for me is more familiar territory. Languages are constructed over hundreds  of years by its speakers who over time create  for themselves a manifestation of ideas inherent in their culture.

For example, my ESL students must be taught English sentence patterns which are based on the Subject/Verb/Object  pattern because  in their first languages the pattern may be Verb/Object/Subject  as in Is green dress!  Differences  between cultures manifested through language run much deeper than structure. For example, Gaelic, a language heavily  influenced by the Druids, does not allow for any expression of ownership, as in the Druid world, no one owned anything. So my husband is expressed as the man at me, and  my house is expressed as the place where I am staying.  My job is expressed as the teacher in me!

 We can understand much about a culture through  studying  the structure of its language. So, how does this Divine construct- only being able to see what is rejected- reveal the Divine perspective?  On reflection, I am guilty of looking at a person and seeing only what is being rejected rather than understanding what has been absorbed. The student who aggressively questions a final grade, a young man who wears his pants lower than my code of decency, a relative who tells jokes I cannot laugh at; I only see their rejection of something i have absorbed – and I, so arrogantly, feel they should absorb, too.

One misty day on the summit of a mountain in the west of  Ireland, I looked down only to see a rainbow below me. I was completely surprised with this perspective, as  I had thought it reserved for the divine. In that arc of prismatic colors nothing is absorbed and nothing is rejected, leaving our creator’s complete palette in plain sight, inviting us to pause for one moment, maybe two.

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