The Red and the Green – Luke Barr

At Easter, the altar frontal is red. The chasuble, which the priest wears is red and green. You will recall that the chasuble has something like a figure 8 on the front, and an elongated U-shape on the back. The chasuble is predominately red; the edges and the shapes are green.

At this time of year, the green in nature is astounding. It is fresh and alive. It is nature’s life. It is everywhere. We walk past the trees and bushes, and everywhere the green has poured itself out into our world. Life gushes towards us in a greeting in green.

What is this green like? It seems to offer itself up, as a beautiful neutral background to our lives. It is a gentle colour which does not overwhelm us.

Whilst nature blooms in green, our altar at Easter is red. Red is the complimentary colour of green. The two go together.  Where green predominates in nature,  it is red which is the colour of the human sacred space, the space which has been crafted by the Human Spirit: the altar.

Red is a colour which calls forth our consciousness – we cannot easily overlook it. It demands of us a conscious encounter. The presence of our Self is called forth by it.

We are born into the green, born into Mother nature. Green is the colour of our nature. But red is the colour of our culture, a culture of the conscious Self.  We are not slaves to our nature. We can and must leave our childhood relationship to nature behind at some point, and assume our creative ‘Son-ship’. We are not bound to what nature has made of us.

We are no longer merely natural beings at the altar, with all our habits, and our pasts which determine us. No, we are free –  free of the determining power of the past. We can become new, we can ‘make all things new’. The red is an invitation to become a life-artist at the altar; to begin anew whenever and wherever one will, on the canvas of one’s biography. This is what Easter and the red asks of us.

This does not mean that we should lord it over nature or become indifferent to her.  We should revere and care for our elderly Mother. We should not isolate her, sentimentalise her, forget her and hand her over to ‘professional carers’. We should each and every one of us venerate Mother nature, respect her, and look after her in her ‘dying earth existence’. Only this way can our immanent journey towards our independence be blessed by her. Otherwise our red independence, our new life becomes the red of passionate egoism and greed.  Whereas, like all good Mothers, Nature wishes her children to become their true Selves, to go their own true way; in which her green is to be replaced by the red of the new Life of the conscious Human Self, an offering being.

Just as we live in a world whose wisdom reveals itself in green, we are tasked to create a world whose wisdom will comprise the red of our True Selves, which ‘have their being in love’.

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