In the dark, in the light

 

‘while it is still dark’ Jan Richardson

The hours slowly past. The silence was deafening. After her Lord’s death, Mary and all those around her felt that creation had paused in inexplicable grief.

They were barely able to carry Jesus from the cross to a tomb before the Day of Preparation began. Mary was unable to perform the ritual bathing and anointing for burial and so she waited. In the silence.

At the start of the new day, before the sun began to rise, Mary ran to the tomb. It was still dark but her heart was heavy and her love great.

No one could have prepared her for the moments to come. Moments where the blur of vision before dawn caused fear, confusion and awe. Where had he gone? What was she to do?

She was brave and filled with conviction. Whatever had happened she would work to get answers. She would proclaim the truth before her. In his absence and his return, Mary remained open to God’s love however far away.

In the moments of dark-before-dawn Mary’s faith would be sealed.

While it is still dark

You hardly imagined
standing here,
everything you ever loved
suddenly returned to you,
looking you in the eye
and calling your name.
And now
you do not know
how to abide this hole
in the center
of your chest,
where a door
slams shut
and swings open
at the same time,
turning on the hinge
of your aching
and hopeful heart.
I tell you,
this is not a banishment
from the garden.
This is an invitation,
a choice,
a threshold,
a gate.
This is your life
calling to you
from a place
you could never
have dreamed,
but now that you
have glimpsed its edge,
you cannot imagine
choosing any other way.
So let the tears come
as anointing,
as consecration,
and then
let them go.
Let this blessing
gather itself around you.
Let it give you
what you will need
for this journey.
You will not remember
the words—
they do not matter.
All you need to remember
is how it sounded
when you stood
in the place of death
and heard the living
call your name.
Jan Richardson

A cry for comfort and safety


(Vietnamese brother comforting baby sister )

I wake this morning with few words and an aching heart.

I share this image as an icon of comfort and compassion – a human response at any age. 

I share this prayer as a way to express the thoughts I carry deep within. 

For Nice, France

“God have mercy on all those who have lost their lives without reason. Lift them up in your strong arms and hold them close. Receive them into a place where there is no more terror or sorrow. Help the injured to recover. Guard them from further pain. Comfort the families with deep compassion. Give them a sense of your presence as they search for a way to bear their grief. And pour your Spirit into this broken world. Let your love run like waters of life into every mind and heart. Show us how to confront what we cannot comprehend and stop the sacrifice of so many innocent lives.”


quote: Bishop Steven Charleston
image: Vietnamese siblings, taken by Na Son Nguyen, 2007

Let it rain 

For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

the Spirit’s walk…

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These days and nights are extremely cold. Not something that even people who have lived in these North Carolina mountains a long time are accustomed to. This has been my home now for three years. I am beginning to remember the art of layering clothes to stay warm from my years in Colorado – just in time!!

Some of the nights have stirred with bitter winds bringing the temp to -17 and below. My assistant stayed with me overnight on one of the coldest nights last week. Worried that the power might go out or the roads could be too icy for my morning assistant to travel, she gave extra time to her job with concern and compassion. She knew if there was a problem I would not be left alone. Her offer came without request.  I was and am grateful. My home is warmed with shelter and heat. There are people who check to see if I need anything. I do feel the cold but not alone.

Not true for everyone. There are many who meet these cold nights without shelter and warmth. Businesses throughout town talk about finding people asleep up against their front doors when they arrive to work each day. Not everyone has a home and shelters throughout the city fill quickly. So there are homeless people who huddle against the walls of office doorways finding some protection from wind and feeling some warmth from the building’s heat. My heart knows compassion for people homeless and lost. Like so many other things — I know I may not be able to change this but I must be aware – awareness is a part of life’s sacred journey.

I share the reflection below. May it offer a way to pray for protection, comfort and hope for those seeking shelter and those who are lost.

On cold winter nights, when Mother Earth sleeps soundly beneath her blankets of snow, the Spirit walks in silence, seeking any who have become lost on their way home. There is no life left unnoticed by God. There is no child forgotten, no elder dismissed, no prisoner unworthy of recognition, no addict left alone, no lonely soul abandoned. Even the hidden ones among us, the silent ones who try to bear their burdens unspeaking, are under the watchful eye of their Maker. On even the coldest nights, the Spirit walks the back roads and the city streets, holding the light of love just a little higher, for those who expect to see only shadow.
Bp. Steven Charleston.