There is a gravesite I go to which is hidden. It sits in a copse of scrub oak, at the end of an unmarked road. There are only four graves: members of my family who died before cemeteries or electricity had come this far out. I go there to listen. To stand beside the brittle trees, beneath the rustling of their leaves. It sounds like the language of our people, the only one they knew. I did not get to know you, I say, but I remember you. Do not worry, they say, for we know you and will remember you too. The wind scatters leaves among the wildflowers where they are sleeping. I go home on an unmarked road. There is no death that separates us from those we love. Only time.
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. Steven Charleston
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.