Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Outstaring the dark

I remember vividly that one of the pleasures of childhood summers was to stay outside until the last rays of light were gone from the summer sky; playing badminton til you could no longer see the birdie, or playing hide and seek until no-one could be found at all and the dark became a lonely place.

We were reveling in the moment then, enjoying ourselves so much we barely noticed as the light slipped away. And I find now, as summer draws to a close and the light begins to fade earlier and earlier, that I am drawn as I was in childhood to sit up with the neighbors, watching from our back decks and talking quietly as the clouds begin to shimmer, then slide into darkness.

But if we stay out after dark, still staring at a horizon no longer visible, it probably means we are NOT in the moment, and are, in fact, unaware of our surroundings, but rather lost in our own thoughts and concerns, losing track of time. It is, for some of us, easy to do that; to fall into the darkness.

I think of this now because of a line from Richard Rohr's Great Themes of Scripture
that my friend Karen quoted in her blog a day or two ago:

"Mary is the model of faith for every woman and man who believes the Lord's word can be trusted. She is willing to outstare the darkness, however long it lasts."

I'm not sure how old we are when we first come to realize that the sun will always rise, that dark, after a certain number of hours, will always be relieved by the arrival of dawn. I do know that it took me a good many more years to understand that the emotional cycles of life are subject to the same rule; that darkness will inevitably be followed by a new dawning of understanding.

Unfortunately it seems to be taking forever to get that understanding planted deeply enough within me that I can remember it in the darkest times. There always, even after all these years, seem to be those moments when hope begins to shimmer and slide away, like the clouds after sunset.

But it is there, in that space, or perhaps just a tiny bit after, that faith emerges, that blessed gift of spirit sent to hold our hand like a reassuring mother, to bring us comfort and the memory of light until morning begins to glow on the horizon.

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