Wednesday we were invited to wear purple to demonstrate that we were aligning ourselves with those who decried and deplored bullying, especially the bullying of young folk who understood themselves to be lesbian, gay, bisexual and or transgendered. I was glad to be able to dig around in my closet and find a purple sweatshirt from a retreat I conducted long ago, entitled, “Sacred Time, Sacred Space.” I was glad to claim that prayer for these little ones whom God loves, as if by my donning the sweatshirt, there would be a sacred time and sacred space for all of them, a space in which they understood that they were loved just the way they are by the Holy One.
I also pondered my history with purple. My first memory was that it was my mother’s most hated color. She didn’t like my crayon drawings if they were primarily purple. So I had almost no purple in my life. Until crept in. I remember seeing the pictures of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the person, and how resplendent the robes and jewelry of purple are. I discovered that one of my favorite women in Scripture, Lydia, was a seller of purple dye, a luxury item, greatly desired by persons of taste in her culture. As I became A Woman of a Certain Age, purple began to abound, not only in my wardrobe and house, but around me; my garden has a profusion of lavender bushes, which thrive, not matter how neglected they are. And Jenny Joseph’s poem is becoming part of my ordinary life, “When I grow old, I shall wear purple…” Alice Walker in her novel The Color Purple called all of us to our sensibilities about what we were to include in our loving when she wrote about Celie, who had hated the color purple because of its association with the abuse that she had experienced. Shug challenges her to look around at the other ways that purple could be found, in flowers and in beauty: “You must look at all the good and acknowledge them because God placed them all on earth.”
So I pray for eyes to see Beauty in all, words to exemplify Grace and Compassion to all, strong legs and spine to stand up to those who are swept up in the bullying, as I put on my purple sweatshirt this week and in the days to come.