(And yes, the title is chosen as a small remembrance and tribute to the late, great, Terry Pratchet)
Last week, on Easter Sunday morning, the church was filled with daffodils. Lovely, brilliant yellow flowers, distributed amongst the pews, ready to decorate the cross as part of our Easter celebration.
But instead of thinking about the occasion, and the symbolism of the flowers, I found myself diverted by the colour. The incredible, beautiful pure yellow of it. And I began to wonder what colour really is.
Of course, I know the science of it. Sort of. I know that it's about how things either absorb or reflect different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. And how specialised parts of our eyes pick up on these reflected wavelengths, and convert them into signals that are transmitted along the optic nerves into our brain which then codes them and interprets them and presents them to our conscious mind as colour.
That, of course, is bound to be a simplified and probably muddled pseudo-scientific explanation, but even this is enough to make my head spin. Such an incredibly complex process involved just so that I can see the bright yellow daff.
But perhaps the really important question isn't 'how do we see colour?' but 'why do we care?' What difference does it make to be able to differentiate between minor variations in electromagnetic radiation?
There are practical benefits to being able to see colour, of course. Like being able to detect rotten fruit more easily, or perhaps being better equipped to see lurking predators. The sort of things that our distant ancestors (having missed out on superior hearing or an excellent sense of smell) really needed for survival. And of course, even nowadays, being able to tell the difference between red lights and green lights can be of some value in the suburban jungle.
However, that's not the whole story about colour. We don't just value it for its utility. We value it because it adds a whole extra dimension of beauty to our lives. As someone old enough to remember black & white TV (yes, kids, there are still people alive who actually had such things!) I can say for sure that the world is a better place in colour. A sunset just doesn't cut it in greyscale.
So maybe the real question is why does 'beautiful' matter? Why do we care about the vividness of a sunset, the deep blue of a seascape, the yellow of a daffodil? And, while we're on the subject, what about the other senses? Why do certain combinations of pressure waves, picked up by a delicate construction of skin and bones in our head and processed by our mind, come to us as music? Music which can then stir our emotions and effect our entire being? Or - thinking as a writer now - why do certain combinations of words have the power to evoke feelings of excitement or wonder or anger or...?
Now we're into deep philosophical waters here. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to splash around a bit desperately, looking for a bit of solid ground to stand on while I catch my breath.
For me, as a Christian, I do have a metaphorical lifebelt. If we are the creations of a God who loves us and wants to give us good things, then beauty - and the ability to appreciate it - is simply another of his gifts to us. He gives us flowers, that form an integral part of our ecosystem, and makes them visually stunning, and enables us to recognise that, so that he can say 'Look at this!' and we can say 'Wow!'
I know that that explanation doesn't work for everyone. There are a lot of people out there, some whom I count as friends, who don't believe in God (or not the same God I believe in) but who still value the beauty of colour. There are other ways of understanding it, other explanations.
But we have this common ground, this starting point. Colour is beautiful, and wonderful, and our ability to detect it and enjoy it is awesome.
Perhaps we shouldn't over-think it. Sometimes it's sufficient just to enjoy it.
Here's some colour for you all. Hope it was a happy Easter!