At the beginning of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Celie suffers through a horrible life and feels no joy. Her only goal is survival. Then her friend Shug points out the color purple to Celie: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see [God] always trying to please us back.”
The color purple suggests that God is present in tiny details. In the midst of Celie’s pain-filled life, purple is the promise that God is there.
The soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus. They put a crown made from a thorn bush on his head. They mock him: “Cheers to the King of the Jews!” They hit him in the head, spit on him, and kneel down pretending to worship.
The purple robe is a cruel joke. The robe they used may have been a soldier’s old coat, a poor imitation of the robe worn only by the emperor. But the purple still symbolized royalty and the kingdoms of God’s world.
The crucifixion of Jesus is the worst event in history. Darkness covers the whole world. Jesus has good reason to feel abandoned by God (v. 34).
And yet, in this most forsaken moment, the story contains a hint of purple. Even in the midst of pain and horror, there is the color purple.
On Good Friday, we see the worst that human beings can do, but we see it knowing that God is present. When we are overwhelmed by darkness, we know that God is still with us.
When our lives are at their worst, what signs of God’s love remain?
God, help us to grieve as we should on this worst of days. Help us to grieve knowing that you share our sorrow. Amen.