My favorite color has varied considerably over my lifetime. The earliest preference I can remember was for yellow, then red, then hunter green throughout college, then navy blue during the wedding era. As a dyed-in-the-wool melancholic I have always appreciated black, but at this point, after all the fall-out of the last two years, it has become my color of choice.
There's something empowering about black. Life is just easier to face with a black shirt on. It gives me a little high of emotional invulnerability I haven't been able to get out of the rest of my wardrobe. It projects a certain measure of "I'm not messing around anymore."
As a nerdy history major, two of my historical heros were the Habsburg greats Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his son, Philip II of Spain. Both of them, even in the flashy Renaissance fashion scene, were pictured by artists predominantly in black. This was very Spanish of them, but also seemed to imply the seriousness with which they considered their duties to Christendom. It wasn't all fun and games being royalty in the sixteenth century.
Maybe it's the severity and sobriety of black I find appealing. Life isn't all fun in the twenty-first century, either. After being shaken up a bit, I now have a definitive game plan for my life, and I need that sense of focus when I wake up in the morning. Even in theater, black seems to universally convey the gravitas of people who now have their act together and mean serious business.
Surely we all noticed the the dark and almost clerical turn of the costumes in the classic Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Luke's color palette in particular progressed from white to grey to black, reflecting the character's personal journey from clueless to dead serious. That's more or less the position I find myself in now. It's almost as though we throw color aside as a distraction when we find that singularity of purpose which demands our undivided attention.
I feel like my life has that sense of purpose again. Circumstance dropped a small crate of lemons on our doorstep, but instead of crying over it anymore, we are determined to make spiked lemonade. We've had our trial by fire, may actually still be in the midst of it, but I'm done feeling like a victim. They were right when they said what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, or at least increases your pain tolerance. Go on, hit me, I'm ready for you now.
In light of all this I find it very appropriate that our priests wear black, since they deal with some of the most serious business known to mankind. They are supposed to have that kind of singularity of vision and purpose, namely helping souls through this life and into the next, which is all that is actually important. That is the big picture, the biggest picture.
I guess I'm channeling a little bit of that attitude to get me through what could otherwise be a real emotional low point in my life. I don't want this time to be pointless; I want every day to somehow forward our long term goals. I want to remember that I don't exist to be entertained but to accomplish the tasks set for me. I don't want to fall again into the habit of "killing" time. Time is a gift, and a very finite one at that.
So each morning I put on my black shirt.