I have experienced much in my life so far and I am hoping my life will continue many more years so I might experience more. Experiences are both in darkness and in light and all the wavelengths of colors in between which inhabit the whole spectrum of Life.
|Mountain Shadows ( painting by Alessandra – my wife!)|
Lately I have felt as though I am in a valley and at times the sun breaks through the narrow span between the mountains and the impressive and often forlorn shadows that fall as the sun passes. The valley though is often quite beautiful but equally of shadows in movement. Shadows upon shadows. These shadows seem to show an absence of the Holy in my life. Perhaps these variations of shadows has to do with the vagaries of the Pandemic and the limits it has necessarily placed on in-person fellowship with people and places. The virus stopped visits to the prisons in which I had ministered. The virus drastically limited my ability to visit persons living in isolation and hospitals while I was serving as a pastor in local churches. People and places feed my spirit and my ‘get up and go!’
My wife is with me unmasked! We have been able to visit our grandchildren. We felt as though they were a part of our ‘bubble’ of safety. My other dear grown children live three thousand miles away and I have not seen them in over 15 months! I miss them terribly. So, much of my life does not seem as full as it had been or as I had hoped and prayed. I struggle with depression at times as well. All of this likely heavily contributes to the many moments of Holy absence I feel. For the Holy is Life and the Holy is within me and All.
I wrote a poem that may read as a prayer of lament and hope. A cry from a wilderness.
The shadows come and go and
The valley is not too deep
I can see the top of the mountains and the blue sky
But it is a valley all the same
with the movement of shadows
The sun passes casting light on shortened days
The shadows come and go
The depth is not so great
But the water seems shallower
The current too slow
Dark and dank some days
Stars appear dimmer in my heart
But they are there
The brightness and the awe is diminished
Cool but too often without the
Refreshing breeze to calm the soul
And the spirits
Even the wildness seems tamed
By the shadows and the shallows
Which stretch ahead
I am told by the great mystics
To welcome the valley and the shadows
Make them a part of who I am right now
Easier said than done!
But the lesson is there
Falling on ears that strain to hear
I do know and feel it is there – over there
The contemporary Christian theologian and teacher, Barbara Brown Taylor has written that to be human is to live by sunlight and moon light, with anxiety and delight, admitting to limits and transcending them, falling down, and rising up. To want a life with only half of these things in it is to want half a life…  I take some comfort in that. I am not alone!
Grace and Peace,
 From her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark