Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Yellow Church

THIS IS THE CHURCH of the Church of the Transfiguration in Uglich, Russia. I visited here in the summer of 1996, a few years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union: a gray, low-clouded, wet day. The neglected church was dirty-white then; the five cupolas on the roof appeared black. So I was delighted to stumble on this recent photograph of the church now restored and alive again.

Cupolas (onion domes) are stylized candles, imaging a people who are on fire with the love of God ~ whose worship is spirit-warmed, genuine and intense. But it's the choice of yellow for the walls that really delights and interests me. Yellow is the color which signifies the diffusion of wisdom.

But what's wisdom? First what it's not:

  • Wisdom is not something I study to get - like a diploma.
  • Wisdom is not having pithy, problem-solving things to say.
  • Wisdom is not granted automatically just because I'm old.
  • Wisdom is not to be confused with what politicians, retired TV generals, news-desk and radio-entertainment-talk-show-folks  have  to say.
  • Something is not wise just because it sounds mysterious or  eastern.
For those of us who are on this side of theological scholarship:
  • Wisdom realizes that anything I know is a gift from God.
  • Wisdom realizes the highest knowledge is the knowledge of  God.
  • Wisdom realizes that anything I know is simply a little step  leading me towards knowing God.
  • Wisdom marvels at the knowledge behind creation.

Now, this Uglich church is yellow. Does this mean all wisdom is found inside? I must be careful of words like all, because a bomb-blessing bishop isn't wise. Preaching which is a history lesson, lecture or harangue isn't wisdom. But God's Word contains wisdom. The liturgy contains wisdom. 

Yellow ~

located-on-the spectrum between
green and orange ~
a singing canary
a #2 pencil
a New York taxi
summer squash
a rubber duck
American Cheese
corn on the cob with
dandelions and daffodils
sunshine on my shoulder and
golden rod
egg yolks
ripe lemons and bananas
the Yellow Pages and 
newly hatched chicks
school buses and...
this over-the-June-moon church
which calls
wake up to God's bright ideas!


  1. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Giving us those little steps towards God.

  2. Awakened and alert to God's bright ideas. I will be more aware to seek spiritual wisdom as The promise of the Risen Christ draws near. Your words are food for the soul. Nourishment to help it grow to eternal life.

  3. Father,
    I so love the first definition of Wisdom: "realizes that anything I know is a GIFT from God."
    That so says it all! Everything good in me is from God, everything else is me/ego, not good.
    May God help me to wake up to His bright ideas. Bless you a million times.

  4. It is good to see churches restored in Russia. This renewed life gives hope to other worn torn places that one day they might enjoy a new beginning one day. I hope that you get to visit there again one day to witness this delight in person.

  5. Wisdom is the knowledge that I have much to learn.

  6. I love that you tell it like it is Fr. Stephen. You don't mince words and puff things up. I always know that when I read your posts, I will get an honest and unbiased viewpoint without the fear of some political agenda behind your words. I accept your message to love God and love each other, in all our faults and all our differences. This is the wisdom I have gained. I hope you know that your wisdom is appreciated. I am assured that your life's journey has been peppered with good times and bad and that you use these experiences to teach us to live fuller and more meaningful existences. May we stand together in God's radiance one day.

  7. Wisdom...Father Stephen's Post...."Yellow Church"

  8. I am glad for your happy memories of your trip to Russia. Our experiences grant us wisdom in the tiniest amounts at a time. I believe that you are full of wisdom as you teach us these lessons about appreciation and God's desires for us to be better people while we are on his earth. Whenever I see something beautiful and yellow, I will think of you Father. Many blessings to you and I hope that you continue to find new places to inspire your wisdom.

  9. St. Teresa of Avila made a little promise "never to waste even a minute." I like that. I'd like to make a little promise to actively seek some discovery everyday: of goodness, of beauty, of God's presence.

  10. Yellow is a bright and cheerful color. I am happy to see the revitalized church. I pray that our nation gains wisdom and is revitalized. It is hard to imagine on this day in this time, but maybe, if we all pray for our leaders to gain wisdom, better decisions can be made for all.

  11. I saw this and immediately thought of sunshine. I was happy to find that yellow is the color of wisdom for wisdom brings understanding and happiness. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  12. When I visited the church, soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was dank and depressing. Then years later, discovering this picture of the church renewed and brilliant yellow - what a joy. And while I've never seen this new colorized version in person, when I think back on the place, the thoughts are of yellow and light. A yellow church is a kind gift to a world so burdened by darkness. Glad you found the post.