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.
Some ask for the world and are diminished in the receiving of it. You gave me only this small pool that the more I drink from, the more overflows me with sourceless light. ~R.S. Thomas “Gift”
A silence slipping around like death, Yet chased by a whisper, a sigh, a breath, One group of trees, lean, naked and cold, Inking their crest ‘gainst a sky green-gold, One path that knows where the corn flowers were; Lonely, apart, unyielding, one fir; And over it softly leaning down, One star that I loved ere the fields went brown.
~Angelina Weld Grimke “A Winter Twilight”
I am astonished at my thirstiness
slaked by such simple things
as a moment of pink,
a burst of birdsong,
the softness of fluff about to let go,
a glimpse of tomorrow over the horizon of today.
Today is one of those excellent January partly cloudies
in which light chooses an unexpected part of the landscape to trick out in gilt,
and then the shadow sweeps it away.
You know you’re alive.
You take huge steps,
trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet. ~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
After years of rarely paying attention,
too busy with whatever clinic or household or barnyard task needs doing,
I realize there are only a finite number of sunrises and sunsets left to me.
Now I don’t want to miss them, so whenever I can,
I stop, take a deep breath
and feel lucky to be alive,
a witness to that moment of transition.
Sometimes they are plain and gray
just as I am,
but there are days that are lit from above and beneath
with a fire that ignites across the sky.
I too am engulfed for a moment or two,
until sun or shadow sweeps me away,
transfixed and transformed,
ever and forever grateful for the light.
To-day I shall be strong, No more shall yield to wrong, Shall squander life no more; Days lost, I know not how, I shall retrieve them now; Now I shall keep the vow I never kept before.Ensanguining the skies How heavily it dies Into the west away; Past touch and sight and sound Not further to be found, How hopeless under ground Falls the remorseful day. ~A.E. Houseman from “How Clear, How Lovely Bright”
It was like a church to me. I entered it on soft foot, Breath held like a cap in the hand. It was quiet. What God there was made himself felt, Not listened to, in clean colours That brought a moistening of the eye, In a movement of the wind over grass. There were no prayers said. But stillness Of the heart’s passions — that was praise Enough; and the mind’s cession Of its kingdom. I walked on, Simple and poor, while the air crumbled And broke on me generously as bread.
~ R.S. Thomas “The Moor”
Last night, as you can see, was a surrounding sunset experience – 360 degrees of evolving color and patterns, streaks and swirls, gradation and gradual decline.
It was all in silence. No bird song, no wind, no spoken prayer.
Yet communion took place with the air breaking and feeding me like manna from heaven.
May I squander life no more and treasure each day.
May I keep my vows to God, church, family, friends, and patients.
May I be warmed on a chill winter day by the witness of such bleeding of last light of day.
…the point is that God is with us,
not beyond us,
Christ’s suffering shatters the iron walls
around individual human suffering,
that Christ’s compassion
makes extreme human compassion
—to the point of death even—possible.
Human love can reach right into death,
then, but not if it is merely human love. ~Christian Wiman
There is nothing I can give you Which you have not; But there is much that, While I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us Unless our hearts find rest in it 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.
And so, at this Christmastime, I greet you with the prayer that for you, Now and forever, The day breaks and the shadows flee away.
– Fra Giovanni Giocondo letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi, Christmas Eve 1513
Merry Christmas Day to one and all from our hilltop farm at BriarCroft
May all be well for you and yours.
I make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well,
and I will make all things well;
and you will see for yourself
that every kind of thing will be well.
…And in these words God wishes us
to be enclosed in rest and peace.
~Julian of Norwich