The night is coming, gliding on the cool aired evening, unfurling its cape of stars, sweeping the last of daylight before it, spreading out shadowed fingers, bringing the silence. Whatever has been will be for one night longer. Let go of care either real or imagined, give in to the stillness of the mother moon, breathe in rhythm with the tides, falling ever so quietly into the arms of peace. Be healed by the night, this ancient sister of the sun, who calls you home, to hearth and haven, safe in the sheltered arms of what is holy, sung to sleep, where dreams dance till dawn, and angels watch as they have watched for a thousand years. (Bishop Steven Charleston)
In the evening shadows, when twilight pulls purple lace around the sleeping trees, I walk beneath gathering clouds with regret by my side. How many things I would have done differently. How many choices I would change. But before I reach the rise of the moon, I see lights begin to go on, house by house, each a firefly of hope in the darkness. Look up, look forward, they seem to say. Leave regret to itself and live now as you would have lived then. I turn for home, walking a little faster. It is not what we have been, but what we become, that separates the night from the day.
Fly before the wind that lifts you, soaring on wings outstretched to the sun. Do not feel constrained to stand below, afraid to take the risk, but trust in your own imagination, in the wild ideas that others cannot yet see. Let them pull you from the common ground and up to a different horizon, a far vision of what might be if only you can reach it. Already you feel a stirring to do something different. Go with that first breeze and see how far it can take you. You were not born to plod the earth, but to test the limits of the sky that calls you.
On the eve of Ash Wednesday may we give thanks for the promise of light. We live in a world that seems to be thriving in darkness. May this season of Lent allow us to focus in this dark and find the cracks where light is trying to push its way through. Where it is struggling to enter let us bring the promise that light will return.
The light will return. It will come again when the darkness has grown old and self-confident, arrogant in its assumption of power, when the clash of armies seems unending and the voices of hope have become but a whisper. Then the light will appear, in the deepest place of fear, least expected, a glimmer in the hand of the poor, a flicker among those who refuse to forget how to love. And the light will become brighter, with each one of us who turn to see it, warming us where our pain is greatest, releasing us to see one another more clearly, a light to follow, to cherish, to protect. Look up now.
The season of shadows is over. The light will return.
(The Very Rev Steven Charleston)
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.