As we leave the season of Easter and Pentecost behind, the Church moves into the ‘green’ season of the weeks after Trinity. Green, because the vestments and altar frontals are of that colour, apart from the occasional variation when a festival or saint’s day occurs. Green, too, because as we move from spring into summer, we are all the more aware of the greenery of trees and grass, hedgerows and hills. It’s a good time of year for people with green fingers.
Green has other meanings as well. It stands for youth and inexperience (‘he’s very green’), reminding us of the green shoots of spring. Such people are sometimes called ‘greenhorns’, which is the American word for immature bulls or oxen. Less pleasantly, green is the colour of envy, derived from Shakespeare’s ‘green-eyed monster’. Older people can look with green-eyed jealousy at the greenhorns, who have all their life before them. The greenhorns are too green to know that the old can be envied as well as the young. To the envious person, old or young, the grass is always greener on the neighbour’s side of the fence. All this suggests that we might spend the green season of the Church’s year reflecting on what makes us envious, what makes us content, and trying to get the balance better.
And then, of course, the colour green has come to sum up the whole environmental agenda, from climate change to pollution, from waste to deforestation, from travel to sources of energy. One of the ways we can implement a green agenda is by living more simple lives, which brings us back to the idea of contentment, and learning to live without envy.
Soon after the start of June we celebrate the summer feast of St Wulfstan which is also the dedication festival of Worcester Cathedral (7 June). In the collect for St Wulfstan we pray that we may ‘live simply, work diligently, and make God’s kingdom known’ – an agenda for the green season of the Church’s year.
The Very Reverend Dr Peter Atkinson
The Dean of Worcester