Ombre: Theme with Variations


Clouds by Jacob Sechter. and instagram @jgsechter

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt
The journey had felt long, at times arduous, dangerous even, but thankfully only a very few times. As they broke through the trees, the meadow presented itself sparkling in the sun. Wildflowers poked up through tall grass. Orange, yellow, white–they absorbed the light, stretching their leaves and petals towards the warmth. Small animals went about their business low to the earth; dragonflies and birds landed on fragile stems and flitted off again leaving them swaying and sometimes bent. An occasional hawk hovered above. Occasionally, a burrow was quickly sought.

Pronounced umber, ombre was a 17th century game of 40 cards and three players. All four suits were used but were limited to the lower numbers and Ace, King, Queen, Jack; 8s, 9s, and 10s were discarded. Some link the name of the game to a form, a corruption, of the word “hombre” meaning “man,” a physical man, a man on the physical plane, limited, corruptible, seeking.

The half cigarette flicked onto the pavement smoldered, unfurling faint streams of whitish smoke, a horizontal incense of sorts, a supplication for healing? understanding? for mercy, perhaps. As it smoldered, people walked past it, cars drove over it, breezes moved the smoke. It continued to burn longer than thought possible. A careless walker finally snuffed it out.

A Gradation of Color
In the meadow is planted a circular staircase that ends within the lowest cloud layer. Its frame, solid metal patinaed and weathered by the ages, is barely visible inside the glow of the wood surrounding it. The sweep of rails and curved steps are of ancient mahogany polished to mirror glossiness. One ascends counterclockwise.

Pronounced om-bray, ombre describes a color or colors graduated from deep saturation to white or nearly white. Almost any object or person can carry the effect. Think of a curtain, a robe, a painted cabinet, spring trees, a blush, a sky.

Look at the sky. Can you tell when the pink at the horizon turns into the blue above? No, Lord, I can’t. But it does. Yes, yes it does. Can you see where the changes happen? No. But they do; the changes do happen, but they are subtle. You don’t need to be able to see how they do. You just need to see that they do. I’ll keep walking. Good. That’s what I need you to do. An essay question from high school popped into my mind. When was the civil war inevitable?

When was there no turning back?

I offered; they accepted and hid themselves in the folds of My robe. I gathered them close to give balm to their broken and bruised parts. She nestled against my shoulder and laid her palm on his breast over his heart. He leaned tentatively against my other shoulder and rested his hand over hers. He let me cover him with my wing, and after some coaxing, snuggled farther in. They looked at each other with such love and even some understanding. After a time, I felt them relax, grow heavy in My arms, and release their fears to Me: knowing they’d be safe, knowing I’d protect them, knowing the incense of their woundedness had reached this high.

Sojourning Light
Anyone can flick a cigarette onto the pavementclimb the staircase in the meadow, but who will serve the broken world below? Who will say, i will, and climb back down and enter the mud? And walk.

That’s my favorite part…when they begin to trust Me.

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