Thursday, August 7, 2008

Slowly, Subtly . . .

I love the twilight this time of year -- the way the light picks out first this corner of the yard, then the big tree, then the daylilies in the back, spotlighting them for just a few moments, then moving on to something else.
I'm fascinated with the way light reminds us of the nature of God, the way it moves, shimmers, shines through clouds and sometimes seems to disappear, only to show up brightly again later.
I wrote about light -- first light, that first light of an early summer morning -- and you can read it here on Notes From Home (just scroll down to June 6, 2007.) The first light of morning promises possibilities.
Twilight is more settled, more soothing. Instead of song sparrows, twilight is ccompanied by the whirring of locusts and the sounds of kids playing in the neighborhood -- nothing too quiet, until the sun has dipped into the horizon a little more, like a child laying its head down onto a pillow.
Even on the darkest or stormiest days, there is light somewhere.


Days are getting shorter, bit by bit. First light comes later, and twilight comes earlier. The sun is still strong at mid-day, though, and warms us up beyond what we're comfortable with.
Queen Anne's lace -- and is it tall blue phlox? -- grows along every ditch and roadway. I've noticed a squirrel or two beginning to dig their winter supplies into the yard.
Slowly, subtly the season begins to turn.


I spent a few weeks of one fall helping my grandmother while my grandfather recovered from a heart attack. She was sad as she noticed the days getting shorter. She was not looking forward to shorter days, darker mornings and afternoons, being cooped up in her house during the winter. I was taken aback. Normally she was a cheerful woman who made the best of whatever happened, and it was hard to see her even a little quiet and sad.
There were few things that upset her, at least that she let us see. One day after the mailman came, she came into the kitchen and clanged a few pots and pans around -- not her usual behavior at all! I asked her what was wrong.
“Letters,” she said. “I write them to everyone, but no one answers me.”
She did write letters. At the time I received them I underestimated their value. She wrote about what she cooked for lunch, who had called, and what her friend Letha had worn to their Ladies Aid Society at church. I was always glad to get a letter from grandma; she always asked how I was doing, and was interested in what was going on in my life, but I didn't appreciate the real value of her letters. I tried to answer her letters, but honestly -- I didn't know what to say most of the time. Then when I was a young wife and mother my grandma died suddenly.
We had a flood in our basement a few years ago, the kind that soaks into boxes of keepsakes. Some of the things we were able to save (thanks to the kindness of friends who helped in a hurry to get things out of the water) included some of my grandmother's letters tucked in with some other things. I hadn't saved them on purpose, but when I held them, re-read them, I felt as if I held a long-buried treasure.
It was a different kind of light that dawned that day, the light of understanding. Each one of her simple letters was nothing more -- or less -- than her reaching out to remind the recipient that she loved us. It was a hug in an envelope, a reminder that she cared how we were doing, and was willing to share her life with us.
Going through those damp boxes, I learned that love doesn't die just because the people who love us die, just like light doesn't die just because the sun goes down.
The sun will come up again; the light will come back.
And love always has the power to warm our hearts.

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