The sun set at 4:11 pm. Really? It seems like the day was just getting going. The shortest days of the year are here and the long dark nights. And now the very cold, at least for those of us in the valley that aren’t used to the sting of below zero frost on our cheeks when the wind pushes her bitter chill into our tender pores.
Have you experienced a Dark Night of the Soul? Or a few? Or have you felt pangs of despair around a deep sorrow that is staring you in the face; a new dilemma in our world or that old haunting sad tired from the tragic moments of long ago? If so, you likely know the loss of a felt sense of God’s presence. “God’s ‘visible absence’ (or so it seems for sure) makes it hard for us in our (difficult) times to celebrate his ‘invisible Presence‘
I received this piece of a letter from a friend at a poignant dawn that came to me. I’d like to share it with you. I’ve (adapted) it a tiny bit:
“I have to look for cracks and crevices. Don’t tell me how God’s mercy is as wide as the ocean, as deep as the sea. I already believe it, but that infinite prospect gets farther away the more we mouth it. I thank you for lamenting God’s (seeming) absences — absence from marriages going mad, our sons dying young, from the inescapable terrors of history: Treblinka. Vietnam. September Eleven. (May I add Aleppo, Syria.) God’s visible absence makes it hard for us in our (difficult) times to celebrate The Beloved’s invisible Presence. This must be why mystics and poets record the slender incursions of splintered light, echoes, fragments, odd words and phrases like flashes through darkened hallways… The thin and tenuous thread we are held by, so astonishing, is the metaphor I need at the shoreline of all those immeasurable oceans of love.” – From a Letter to Lew Smedes about God’s Presence by Rod Jellema
Cracks and crevices, the slender incursions of splintered light like flashes through darkened hallways, O Glorious Light shimmering in the cold short days of life, Awaken us. Pause
Recently, as I lay on my bed of sickness and tears, surrendering to invisible Presence, an Echo of Love came and touched a tender place in my heart bringing illumined whispers of grace to some darkness where I was held hostage. I know dark; I know REALLY dark. But I also know light – and the Sacred ILLUMINED light that is too difficult to dismiss as anything other than a ‘splintered light’ of a grace explosion . She often comes with the peek of tender dawn; silent dawn upon lengthy ever-coming dawn. And then, shocking, but true, she sometimes comes and kisses you smack in the face and it’s hard to breathe for a moment or two and one can’t see straight for a while. Astonishing. The surprise of it grabbed me unaware and the lingering of it warmed me for hours and days; perhaps for this lifetime.
I forget, do you? We share in forty days of our Lover’s suffering and four weeks of Advent waiting. May we also consent to enter forty days, at least, in the glorious resurrection truth in this life, and on into the one to come, and enter Christmas with good tidings of great joy that is for all people. God has come, LIVE – IN PERSON, and wanted to!!! May we celebrate the personal and up-close coming of God in just a few days. For OUR LIGHT has come, is coming, and shall always come again. Light changes everything; a flower blooms, a bird sings, a wanderer finds their way, and a child dances! Hope is imparted morning light after morning light; wave after lapping wave. May we know afresh, and perhaps deeper still, that we are held by that “thin and tenuous thread” at the shoreline of “all those immeasurable oceans of love.”
My prayer is that dawn after dawn, and grace upon grace, will continue to invade each crack and crevice and darkened hallway of our lives such that we melt into surrender, and can no longer deny or diminish her fragments that touch us moment by moment, tear after tear, and envelope us in the beauty and goodness that God has come ~ and always will.
Lorie ~ December 17, 2016
Photo LM ~ Willband Bird Sanctuary, Dec 16/16