Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Grey skies, grey seas, Grey Cup...discovering the beauty in "grey"!

The skies are predominantly grey here on Canada's wet, west coast these days! As many will have heard on the national news, a combination of extreme rain, snowmelt from the Island mountains, and high tides resulted in significant flooding to parts of our community. As always, however, amidst the "greyness" of what is a very trying time for those most affected, the warm rays of compassion and generosity are evident as people work together to deal with adversity. "Greyness" can bring out the best!

"Grey" is such an interesting word with a variety of images. The "colour" grey - the various shades and tints that fill in between black and white - is abundant in nature. Sky and sea, rocky beach and winter deciduous forests can be predominantly grey - and, somehow, there is a gentle beauty there. Grey can also designate the passage of time in relation to the process of aging. I rather prefer to think of aging in terms of the number of trips we've taken around the sun, but those who have achieved wisdom through time are most often the grey-haired "elders" of our society. Although my hair follicles still seem content to produce adequate pigment, I note that my beard is not so willing any more - no worries, time shall be allowed to take its own course!

And then there is this upcoming weekend - "Grey", as in the Grey Cup game! Next Sunday will feature the annual epic football game in our Canadian Football League, this year between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Alouettes. If it can't be the Edmonton Eskimos, the Calgary Stampeders or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (in that order) then, as a "westerner" I will be compelled to cheer for Saskatchewan this year! Of course, the most fondly remembered Grey Cup game was in Hamilton when the home team secured the Cup winning over Saskatchewan by a score of 13-10. We were married that weekend, in Hamilton! It was one heck of a celebration - both events!

Looking into the woods behind where we live, a soft grey mist has descended amidst the tall grey trunks of the Douglas Firs. It's a hauntingly beautiful sight. Trees that only moments ago were in distinct focus, now "phase" in and out of view as the mist swirls, obedient to the whims and wishes of an inconsistent breeze. The "greyness" clearly has a playful side as it moves through the trees, branches, and evergreen boughs, creating a sense of ghostly movement in the woods.

The grey overcast sometimes deters folks from going out on the water or on the trails or even for a walk around town. That's too bad, because the grey skies and grey waters, the grey mist amongst the trees and over the forest floor all serve to create a dramatic sense of connection to the earth, sky, and sea. Focus becomes more concentrated, the near is no longer distracted by the far. There is a simplicity, perhaps only because there is a paucity of colour and a muting of at least some of the ambient sound. I find the overcast and the "undercast" of sky and sea strangely calming.

We all have the occasional "grey mood" and some folks have all too many such times. These, however, don't need to be seen as they most often are, in a negative light. A grey mood can be a gentle reminder to, at least for the time being, attend to only what is essential and to "excuse" from our attention ever-present but distant matters that can distract us and wear us out. We can understand a grey mood, which we all experience time and again, as an opportunity to bring into focus some healthy introspection. Such a time can provide respite from the distractions of life's never ending demands and issues. Like a forest engulfed in mist, we may see again, but perhaps for the first time and with greater clarity, the elements of the environment that are closest to us. The "softening" of our more distant concerns and issues can bring a calming, a restfulness, and new perspectives that enable us to be much more successful at living in the moment. It may be a bit of a paradigm switch to see grey moods in such a light, but therein lies a healthy change.

Yes, there is much beauty and promise in "grey" if we seek it out with confidence and a sense of adventure. And this coming Sunday afternoon, the Grey Cup Game in McMahon Stadium in Calgary, means we will permit ourselves a rare (large) bag of potato chips and, perhaps, a few other (usually resisted) treats to celebrate this much anticipated sports event! Yes!!!

May you find beauty in all the least likely of places,


The image above was taken on a beautiful, grey, overcast day of paddling near Egmont, BC.


  1. Does this mean that next Sunday the sermon will be short and the Newcomers lunch inhaled. haha Didn't know you were such a football fan...and hey you don't like the BC Team...hmmm thought they might have been in your top three!

  2. Ahhh, to respond...maybe, nope, yup, and, busted! I'm pretty sure the game doesn't start till 1530 hrs so no prob!

  3. Your grey story forced me to think of the good in grey - like your Hamilton day. Also made me think of Point Grey. To live there would be a treat. Then there is County Grey, Ontario, that place will be all lit about Olympic torch festivities soon after Christmas. I'll be less of a grey haired grump this winter and perhaps look at Grey's Anatomy for a refresher.

  4. And there was a book my father gave to me when I was quite young, "The Grey Seas Under" by Farley Mowatt - exciting Canadian non-fiction by one of our best! Thank you for your comments...and I'm SURE you're not a grey haired "grump"!

  5. Nice Posting Duncan. There was also Grey Owl, who spread the word that we must cherish our wilderness.

  6. Yes, good point,thank you for that.