It’s Advent and Advent has a purple color. A deep purple, at least I perceive it that way. It’s a color of seriousness, and maybe that’s why we’re a little cautious about that color. We imagine parting of some kind. Indeed, one long year is about to end and we should be a year wiser. But are we? Some of us may become filled with uncertainty while a bit of shame penetrates our minds through this color Purple.
But color is not to blame. Did you know that purple combines the properties of red and blue? Purple overcomes their duality. And perhaps that is the secret of wisdom, in the art of combining the red blood of the Earth and the bluish hope of the Heaven so that life is beautiful. That is our task to live beautifully. So let’s not be afraid of purple and let us provoke our better selves. And let us ask for Grace. Purple!
But how to look for a better self? I think we can start with ordinary things and where our home is. Where we have something to anchor. When Christmas comes, I remember my great-grandmother from the Krkonose Mountains and how the fragile old woman was not afraid to sleep under our big Bethlehem decoration. I was afraid, because the family Bethlehem was full of churches and houses and full of figurines and was built on several steps. This heavy wooden town hung over her bed in the full length. It never fell down. Why this all created my deep memory, I do not know. What I know is that the great-grandmother’s love for the born baby Jesus and us children was a strong message about the beauty of Christmas, which even I, a restless girl could not overhear.
I nostalgically remembered the Bethlehem decorated in my grandparent’s blue-and-white mountain cottage house, especially the first years I lived in Tokyo. I missed home. I tried to create Christmas for my children, as I remembered from my childhood, but I was frustrated that everything was different in Japan and my ideal image of Christmas didn’t work. In Japan, there is simply not much love seen through trees, lights, songs and Santa Claus. All the more beautiful and loving is when Christmas turns into preparations for the Japanese New Year. Purity, sophistication, nobility and seriousness are the virtues that adorn the end and the beginning, but they are not strictly divided in Japan. The old is only cleansed of sin. The priests help with that. In the temples, they ring bells – one blow for each type of sin. It takes several hours. A lot of blows because there is a lot of sin. With the sound of Earthly and Heavenly bells, something important speaks to the souls of men. New Year! Liturgically purple!
And because I saw the New Year in Japan in purple, and because I was set to look for symbols in everything in Japan, I created one of my own symbol. A Christmas-New Year symbol of nobility. Purple potato became the symbol. An ordinary potato that is not even native to the Japanese islands. These potatoes were first grown in Okinawa, but there are also varieties in other colors and are popular all over Japan. They are called Satsumaimo. Imo is a potato. Satsuma they are because they were mainly grown in Satsuma region on Kyushu.
Here I am finally revealing why every year in Miyabi at the end of the year and all January we have something from purple potatoes on the special menu. Usually it’s sweet-salty pyre, where we add fragrant chestnuts, or one year it was a dessert with a whitish snowy crust, a square tanned on all sides. The simplest are the balls shaped in a cloth. In Miyabi, we add white bean shiroan to the pure purple satsumaimo mass, but only enough to soften the color and not overwhelm the taste. The purple color is also a color of softness and prudence. Even these virtues we never have enough, although we should long for them.
In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it is difficult to find a moment when we just sit in peace and quiet and enjoy something good. Thinking of something nice. And you see, again I have potatoes to help. Similar sweet potato, which this time has a red peel and a yellow inside. Red is the symbol of Earth without which we cannot live, and the vibration of yellow is said to support metabolism. It’s a handy combination and I discovered it in Japan thanks to yakiimo door-to-door sellers. Baked potato sellers. Click and listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxaoTBCThlU
Do you feel the same joy? It’s almost a voice from above, Heaven. It sounds like a temple voice. It makes the strings of love tremble in my body. Toward Japan and the people who live on the islands. Toward all people on Earth. In Japan everyone knows this song like news to buy baked potatoes, because it is the best to do. And so many actually do. Outside is cold and the potatoes are very good. The message is that it’s best to sit in a nicely warm room thinking about grace and goodness being present after all in our human society. With God’s help. Feeling gratitude.
So let the hormone of happiness find its way through our whole selves! Helped with potatoes or something else. And during those moments of happiness, let’s meditate on Advent and the color of Advent PURPLE. Let’s rejoice!