For years I was convinced that vapor lights turning on at dusk had no place on our farm.
Light pollution and all that.
Then I got older and awkward enough to stumble in the dark on uneven ground while walking to the barn — I needed a light to help me avoid a face plant.
We now have motion detection lights that turn on when I approach. They provide illumination just long enough to get me where I need to go and once I’m safely inside, they fade out and allow the sleeping barnyard the cover of darkness it needs.
The sun itself is a kind of motion detector in reverse – a motion activator/deactivator. When it is time, it turns on to get us moving and we are spurred to the work of the day. When it is time to rest, it shuts off and we become still as chickens in a roost.
It is the rhythm of work and sleep that we need in our lives – a cycle of activity and rest.
And today is Sabbath – the Light is On us.
Even so, we are to stop and listen, cease work and rest.
I am the rest between two notes, which are somehow always in discord because Death’s note wants to climb over— but in the dark interval, reconciled, they stay there trembling. And the song goes on, beautiful. ~Rainer Maria Rilke from “My Life is Not This Steeply Sloping Hour”
On Sunday evenings I often feel I’m the spot in the middle between discordant notes. There is on one side of me the pressure of catch-up from what was left undone through a too-brief weekend and on the other side is the anticipated demand of the coming week. As I prepare to sleep at the end of a Sabbath day, I feel uneasily in dead center, immobilized by the unknown ahead and the known behind.
This moment of rest in the present, between the trembling past and uncertain future, is my moment of reconciliation: my Sabbath extended.
This evening, I will allow myself a steeply sloping hour of silence and reflection before I surge ahead into the week, knowing that on my journey I’ll inevitably hit wrong notes, yet beautiful nevertheless.
Even the least harmonious notes resolve within the next chord. I will move from the rest of my Sabbath back into the rhythm of my life.
Trembling, still trembling, always trembling at what is to come.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much I cannot give that you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within reach, is joy. Take joy! There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look. Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy, or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.
~Fra Giovanni , a late 15th century monk and scholar, fromSeeking Peace
We are reminded each day, as the night overtakes the light, that we have only to look and take what is gifted to us: the splendor and glory lies under the cover of darkness.
Each of us dwell in shadow, unwilling to be exposed and naked for all to see our failings, our blemishes and our weaknesses. We hide who we are, missing the offering up of this day, this moment.
Find rest today, this Sabbath, and take what is so freely given:
take heaven, take peace, take joy, take life on fully.
This moment, even when shrouded in darkness, never comes again.
I am the rest between two notes, which are somehow always in discord because Death’s note wants to climb over— but in the dark interval, reconciled, they stay there trembling. And the song goes on, beautiful.” ~Rainer Maria Rilkefrom “My Life is Not This Steeply Sloping Hour”
At the end of this past Sunday’s Easter worship, while playing a complicated version of the Doxology on the piano in our church, I hit some wrong notes. Usually I can recover from such mistakes but I lost my way in the music on the page, struggling to recover in time to finish with the undaunted congregation, my fingers trembling to find the right keys.
Waking yesterday, I felt my usual Monday morning uneasiness but even more so: I’m the spot in the middle between discordant notes. There is on one side of me the pressure of catching up from what was left undone through the weekend and on the other side the anticipated demands of the coming week.
Before I even arrive at work, I find myself uneasy in dead center, immobilized by the unknown ahead and the known messiness I’ve left behind.
This moment of rest in the present, between the trembling past and uncertain future, is a precious moment of reconciliation, my Sabbath extended. I must allow myself an instant of silence and reflection and forgiveness before I surge ahead into the week, knowing that on my continuing journey I’ll inevitably hit wrong notes.
But it can be beautiful nevertheless.
Even the least harmonious notes find reconciliation within the next chord. I move from the rest of my Sabbath back into the rhythm of my life, renewed and forgiven.
There is a fragrance in the air, a certain passage of a song, an old photograph falling out from the pages of a book, the sound of somebody’s voice in the hall that makes your heart leap and fills your eyes with tears.
Who can say when or how it will be that something easters up out of the dimness to remind us of a time before we were born and after we will die?
God himself does not give answers. He gives himself. ~Frederick Buechner from Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale
“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.”
― Gerard Manley Hopkins
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born. ~William Butler Yeats from “Easter, 1916”
It has been a slow coming of spring this year, seeming in no hurry whatsoever. Snow remains in the foothills and the greening of the fields has only begun. The flowering plum and cherry trees finally have burst into bloom despite a continued chill. It feels like winter at night yet the perfumed air of spring now permeates the day. Such extreme variability is disorienting, much like standing blinded in a spotlight in a darkened room.
Yet this is exactly what eastering is like. It is awakening out of a restless sleep, opening a door to let in fresh air, and the stone that locked us in the dark rolled back.
Lined with light the twigs are stubby arrows. A gilded trunk writhes Upward from the roots, from the pit of the black tentacles.
In the book of spring a bare-limbed torso is the first illustration.
Light teaches the tree to beget leaves, to embroider itself all over with green reality, until summer becomes its steady portrait and birds bring their lifetime to the boughs.
Then even the corpse light copies from below may shimmer, dreaming it feels the cheeks of blossom. ~May Swenson “April Light”
In April we wait for the corpse light~
a mysterious illumination which comes alive
on a bright Sabbath Easter morning,
taking bare stubs of people,
begetting them green,
bursting them into blossom,
their cheeks pink with life,
in promise of faithful fruitfulness.