When, in the cavern darkness, the child first opened his mouth (even before his eyes widened to see the supple world his lungs had breathed into being), could he have known that breathing trumps seeing? Did he love the way air sighs as it brushes in and out through flesh to sustain the tiny heart’s iambic beating, tramping the crossroads of the brain like donkey tracks, the blood dazzling and invisible, the corpuscles skittering to the earlobes and toenails? Did he have any idea it would take all his breath to speak in stories that would change the world? ~Luci Shaw “Breath”
Breath created the world by forming the Words that tell the stories that change everything and us.
How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset. George MacDonald
In our modern world that never seems to rest, a sunrise can feel more daunting than a sunset. We are unprepared for the day to start: the ready-set-go of a sunrise can be overwhelming to a tired soul.
There are mornings when the new light of dawn penetrates right through our closed eyelids, enough to wake the dead, if not the sleeping. It cannot be ignored in its urgency to rouse us to action.
In contrast, the end of the day requires little preparation. Sunsets signal a slowing-down unraveling of tension, a deep cleansing breath, a letting-go of the light for another night. It eases over us, covering us like a comfortable quilt, tucking us in for the night with a kiss and hug and promise of sweet dreams.
The reason we do not fear the sunset is that we know it isn’t all there is. The black nothingness of night would be petrifying if we didn’t understand and trust that the light will return, as startling as it may be in its brightness. It is the rerunning cycle of the light and dark that reassures. It is as it was created to be, over and over.
Let the sunset tuck us in. Let the sunrise ready us for a new day.
Sundays too my father got up early And put his clothes on in the blueback cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices? – Robert Hayden, Those Winter Sundays
We cannot know nor comprehend the sacrifices made for us, so much hidden away and inscrutable.
We who feel so entitled to comfort and pleasure and attention will find that none of it is deserved yet still freely given. May we ourselves someday feel such love for another – if we are so blessed to give of ourselves so deeply.
Our shoes shined, our hearts brimming with gratitude on a cold Sunday morning – we go to thank God for His ultimate sacrifice and His grace in loving us as we are: deserving nothing, filled with everything from Him.
Now we must look about us. Near at hand cloud like a fist has closed on all the hills and by this meager daylight on our land wesee just this, and this, and not beyond.
The sodden trees emerge and stand revealed; we must acknowledge each one as it is, stripped and stark, its basic structure clear, the last leaves fallen, summer’s season dead.
And day on day the soft mist softly falls as the long rain drives across the field and all the while what we had seen beyond is lost and shut as if it never were.
And we look closely at each other now, the bleak roots, black grass, and the muddy road, the litter that we never cleared away, the broken flowers from a summer’s day –
Oh, stark and clearly we must look within to weigh at last our purity and sin.
Oh, lovely hills in sunlight far away, Oh, curving valley where the river sings! Remembering, we live this discipline, and hope still beats about us with strong wings. ~Jane Tyson Clement “November Rain” from No One Can Stem The Tide.
Stripped and stark — if fall and winter were the ending of all things, there would be no hope.
There would be no sun shining on the hills far beyond me to reflect back what is coming, and what has been.
When I am down to the bare and broken essentials — so bleak and muddy and the too-early dark — I seek the strength of the wings whooshing through air above me, alive, vibrant, purposeful.
I know this resting pause is not the end. Never has been. Never will be.
I’m the child of rainy Sundays. I watched time crawl Like an injured fly Over the wet windowpane. Or waited for a branch On a tree to stop shaking, While Grandmother knitted Making a ball of yarn Roll over like a kitten at her feet. I knew every clock in the house Had stopped ticking And that this day will last forever. ~Charles Simic “To Boredom”
It has been so long since I’ve felt bored.
My list of to-do’s and want-to-do’s
is much longer than the years left to me.
But I remember those days long ago
when the clock would stop,
time would suspend itself above me, dangling
and the day would last forever
until it finally collapsed with a gasp.
Time races and skitters and skips by,
each new heartbeat
a grateful instance of continued existence.
Creation is the arena in and through which God wishes to reveal himself. In creating, in preserving, in pursuing; in hallowing, in participating, in wooing— the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have made all creation, and all its creatures, great and small, their delight.
We recognize that, being made in his image, we are appointed as his stewards. This does not give us carte blanche with God’s world. We are not given creation to plunder, but to hone and tend in such ways that every little part of it gives glory to God. ~Kathleen Mulhern in Dry Bones
I like the thought of creation being “wooed” into existence by God. Indeed I need to be gently wooed into tackling the day and tending my part of creation. The night may have been sleepless, the worry endless, the efforts I make futile.
Yet I’m here for a reason, as is every spider, mouse and even mosquito. It is all to His glory, as insignificant as I feel.
There can be nothing but wooing wonder in all He has made.
We humans contribute to the world’s gloom,
like dark shadows on a dark landscape.…
But now this man from Nazareth comes to us
and invites us to mirror God’s image,
and shows us how.
you too can become light, as God is light.
What is all around you is not hell,
but rather a world waiting to be filled with hope and faith.
This world is your home as surely as the God who created and wrought it is love.
You may not believe it, but you can love this world.
It is a place of God.
It has a purpose.
Its beauty is not a delusion.
You can lead a meaningful life in it. ~Jörg Zink “Doors to the Feast”
In this dark world we search for inspiration and a sense of purpose in the most unlikely places:
this past week, we were awestruck by the devotion of a mother killer whale in nearby Puget Sound who has carried her dead baby on her nose for over a week, unwilling to abandon the lifeless body to the sea.
There is tragic beauty in such demonstration of profound love, a recognition of our own losses and helplessness in the face of death.
We too are carried by our Savior through His relentless devotion and love for us, never to abandon us.
Even in the face of loss and consumed by the darkness of the world, we love as we are loved, body of His body.
HOW TO SWIM AN ELEGY
Lo, let that night be desolate;
let no joyful voice come therein.
Let them curse it that curse the day,
who are ready to rouse up leviathan.