Have you noticed that the light is changing? That its creamy gold covers the trees and roadways like warm caramel? As I travel both to and from work, winding alongside the mountains, I see how the brightness of summer’s sun has mellowed and has become deeper and richer.
I bask in it, closing my eyes and stretching toward it, my own version of a sun-salutation.
But it doesn’t last long, this golden hour. Before I can drink my fill, it seems to sink out of sight – leaving me a little chilly and standing in the shadows. All too quickly, I forget that the sun was just shining upon me and that it will return again tomorrow. All too quickly, I turn to the darkness and let it settle upon me.
Friends, our lives cannot always be lived in the golden hour. Difficult and dark times assail us. Even so we must hold the light in our hearts all the while the darkness deepens, remembering that the sun will rise again.
So to our faith cannot only be vibrant when the light is shining. Evil and the powers of darkness will sometimes appear to be strong, even invincible. Even so,we must hold the Light for ourselves and for others, proclaiming for ourselves and others that the Son will rise again.
I know that today this might be hard to believe, so I share this, a lovely and moving portion of “The Servant Song” – to you, my beloved friend, “I will hold the Christ-light for you in the nighttime of your fear/ I will hold my hand out to you/say the words you long to hear.”
I told this story on Sunday, October 23rd as the Children’s Sermon. I thought that like all good stories, it bore re-telling.
When my mom was a little girl, her house didn’t have electricity. They had to light a fire to stay warm, cook their food and heat their water for bathing. Because my mom was the oldest of eight, she had the important chore of checking the fire. It was an important job. One morning, she opened the door of the wood stove and saw the fire had gone out! She quickly went out the back door and called her dad in from the tobacco field where he had been working since before the sun was up.
“Daddy, the fire is out!!”
While she waited for her father, she went over to the woodpile and picked up as big a stick as she could lift, so when her dad came in the door, there she stood fixin’ to throw that log into the wood stove.
“Whoa, there!” my papa said.
“But the fire is out, Daddy! Mama and the babies are gonna freeze!” (My mom is rather dramatic.)
“Elizabeth,” he said, “the fire’s not out. I banked the ashes to keep the coals from going out. The fire is there, we just need to tend it.”
She again hoisted that big stick up and again her father said,”That big a stick will put the fire out. What we need is kindling – we will use those small sticks – the ones you and your brothers pick up in the yard- to slowly catch the fire. And then, after awhile, that fire will be a-blaze.”
You see, my mom thought that when she couldn’t see the fire, it must have gone out. But really it needed re-kindling – that careful work of putting small sticks in to the coals, that quiet work of sitting and waiting for each stick to catch hold of the spark, that slow work of not rushing to put the large pieces on too soon.
Our faith in God is like that hidden fire. Sometimes it looks and maybe even feels like its gone out, when really it needs some tending with small and patient attention. I wonder where you are in this story. Does your fire need rekindling? Do you need patience for the work of rekindling? Do you need reminding to put down the big stick and look for the small sticks along the way? Whatever the case, I invite you to spend some time this week, tending to your fire. I intend to do the same. Blessings – Lynne
A few nights ago, NASA launched the Antares rocket from Wallops Island off the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. I don’t really care about such things, but my husband does and he alerted me to the time of the launch, where visibility would be best and the precise location in the night sky where to turn my gaze.
Frankly, I didn’t pay attention. I was going to let this one pass.
Then at 7:35 PM, five minutes before lift off, my often prickly, rarely excited daughter called down from her room, “Mom, are you ready to go?” And so I put on my shoes and a jacket over my pjs, and headed outside to stand in the empty field across from my house and stare into the starry night.
For several moments, she and I stood silent, our heads back, taking in the vast expanse, sprinkled here and there with tiny dots of light. Some we decided were stars, others satellites or airplanes – none seemed to be the rocket.
Then, just as we turned to walk back inside, Anne exclaimed, “Look!” To our amazement, we saw the red glow of the launcher and then the afterglow of white as the rocket pulled away. We stood as Antares moved across the sky until our eyes could no longer see it.
As we stood on our porch, I realized the gift of the night watch. Even when we cannot see them, the stars and the rockets are shining brightly. When the darkness seems so present, when the shadows dim the light, and when our own inner gloom dulls life’s sparkle, I consider this good news – good news that is echoed in the gospel of John who reminds us that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
May God’s word be to you like a star (or rocket) in the night sky, giving off light, catching you by surprise and shining in the darkness.
Blessings – Lynne