Friday, 5 December 2014

Advent: Ink

It's probably of very little interest to most normal people caught up in the mad pre-Christmas planning/ spending/stocking up/school plays/boozy party rush, that the Church is observing Advent. The altars are spread in dark blue or purple, for royalty and penitence, and the spiritual atmosphere, in theory at least, is one of waiting.

I've always had a 'thing' for purple. Many moons ago, on a cold, wintry, late afternoon, there was an enticing dress buying outing for one small girl who liked dresses. It may have even been Advent. There was one style in particular in the shop; velvet, long sleeved, with little velvet covered buttons all down the front and a piece of white lace at the collar. It was perfection. It came in purple or deep midnight blue. I can't remember now the exact details, but one colour only was available in my (small, maybe aged 6) size. Was it the midnight blue? Did I long for the purple but make do with blue instead? Or maybe it was the midnight blue that I craved, and the purple was shunned. I can't remember. Anyway, I loved that velvet, wintry, Advent coloured dress.

Sometimes a song comes along that captures the spirit of the season. It's probably very tenuous, but for me, preparing to preach each Sunday through Advent on waiting, repentance, judgment and the return of the King, it has to be Ink, by Coldplay, from their new album, Ghost Stories.

It's partly the artwork. A pair of wings on a deep midnight blue background. They're like angel wings - a Nativity maybe. Or the wings of a dove. And the title. Ink. There's something deep and mysterious about a bottle of dark blue ink. Or sky, just before the dawn. Or the deep waters recalled in the mark of baptism. The singer has marked himself with a tattoo to remember his love ('the pain's alright'). 'Together through life', its message.

Ink is a love song. It talks about being broken and lost and loving till it hurts. Simple. It's haunting, like a Christmas song that's got under your skin without your permission, with a 'to die for' riff and two little melodies that come together as the song builds. It's circular, the chords going round and round with no apparent ending, the base note playing around the fourth, third, fifth and sixth; then the fourth, third, sixth and fifth.

Whether it's purple in Advent, or deep indigo blue; whether in dark skies that will eventually dawn, or in the deep waters of baptism, the song paints the mood. And it fits. Like the perfect dress.

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