The tracery of black branches against evening’s darkening blue sky bewitches me each winter. As the leaves fall away, the twigs etch deeper and sharper into the night sky, fine lines no pen or brush could replicate. Tonight my beloved and I sat on the back porch, watching the winter sun set, a fire chuttering in the chimenea before us, entranced by a sky too beautiful to leave. By the time I could break the spell long enough to reach for my camera, there was not enough light left in the sky to register on the light-gathering optics.
Curious, I tried the camera’s time lapse setting; my hands were too shaky, of course. So, grab the little tripod: and there … there is my winter sky, complete with evening star snagged high in the branches.
It took time for the camera to gather enough light for the image my eyes see naturally.
It takes time, to gather enough light to see.
I am well aware that my peaceful night is not universal, whether looking near or far. And yet, it is the peace and well-being of this life I wish for others, and it is this wish I must put work to, work and not just words.
The words do come, of course, in small pieces of awareness and prayers that almost seem to bloom of their own volition with the coming of night. I know I am not alone in this evening prayer … people praying have been reaching out for millenia, as their night-time prayers reveal:
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. — Psalm 63:6-8
Sing to the LORD, you saints of God; praise [God’s] holy name. For [God’s] anger lasts only a moment, but [God’s] favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” — Psalm 30:4-6
The words of our prayers work in us and through us, like stars glowing through the winter trees. And yet sometimes an answer to those prayers can feel as cold and distant as that starlight: for my friends, facing sickness unto death; for those remembering and seeking justice for Brisenia Flores; for those seeking peace and possibility in Egypt; for those grieving the dehumanization of gay people in Uganda and the role of US evangelical religious leaders in that dehumanization.
I am aware, too, that for many of my friends Christianity is a source of gloomy dismay, to which no lapse of time or judgment can bring light.
I can only hope and work for days when my dance with the One who brung me is more beauty and life and grace than harm and death and guilt.
May we recognize the shadows as sheltering wings we can rest under. May our souls cling to that which sustains. May our weeping turn to comfort. May rejoicing come in the morning … for us all.