Purple has long been a storied color known for its association with royalty, and therefore, a royal family line. It wasn’t merely chosen for this “royal” role because of its color though, but because of its process.
See, the history of purple tells us that its depth of color, vibrancy and uniqueness was not easy to come by. They didn’t merely mix red and blue as we might today. Rather, they had to learn how to slowly extract it from a hidden place. Purple was, and is, a process. Here is part of purple’s story as told by Wikipedia:
“As early as the 15th century BC the citizens of Sidon and Tyre, two cities on the coast of Ancient Phoenicia, (present day Lebanon), were producing purple dye from a sea snail called the spiny dye-murex. Clothing colored with the Tyrian dye was mentioned in both the Iliadof Homer and the Aeneid of Virgil. The deep, rich purple dye made from this snail became known as Tyrian purple.
The process of making the dye was long, difficult and expensive. Thousands of the tiny snails had to be found, their shells cracked, the snail removed. Mountains of empty shells have been found at the ancient sites of Sidon and Tyre. The snails were left to soak, then a tiny gland was removed and the juice extracted and put in a basin, which was placed in the sunlight. There a remarkable transformation took place. In the sunlight the juice turned white, then yellow-green, then green, then violet, then a red which turned darker and darker. The process had to be stopped at exactly the right time to obtain the desired color, which could range from a bright crimson to a dark purple, the color of dried blood. Then either wool, linen or silk would be dyed. The exact hue varied between crimson and violet, but it was always rich, bright and lasting.
Tyrian purple became the color of kings, nobles, priests and magistrates all around the Mediterranean.”
I believe that purple is still a process for us today. It’s a measure of extraction, learning to extract the precious from what the world may even label as worthless. It is us learning once again to bypass the “tyranny of the urgent” as John Maxwell labels it, to forsake social media “hot takes,” and deciding to overcome the immediacies and instant gratification of today’s culture to embrace an involved process of discovering and extracting the royalty hidden in people near and far, young and old, rich and poor. Sometimes you’re sitting in the presence of young king’s and queens and you don’t even know it.
Purple isn’t about an external color we’re painting the world, it is a culture we live towards our neighbor that learns to see the best, and bring out the most from within each life, and even circumstances, that we meet and face every day. Purple is what I like to call an inside-out proposition—a culture we can create in our lives, our relationships, homes, offices, communities, nations and more that once again learns to search for, wait for, and mine for a true form value hidden inside every single person that we all might seek to live from once again.
When we choose to become a people who live out this “purple” culture, we’ll become a growing, royal family line that creates belonging, that breathes hope, one that offers authentic freedom and healing, and we’ll be a culture that empowers purpose and dreams to be genuine, if not frequent realities—regardless of circumstance. When we learn to live purple towards one another, we’ll find long hidden treasures that our world and culture is desperate for today. I know, because I have found some of the greatest treasures in what the world would say are the most unlikely of places.