In the gloaming when death comes clearly into view as the horizon of life’s landscape, the call is to illumination, to focus the shining darts of life’s lessons as a magnifying glass focuses rays of light. The task of middle age is to dispose of the extraneous, to focus desire’s flickering until it flames at the incendiary point of an undivided heart and makes of love a pure, bright blaze before a falling night. ~Bonnie Thurston “Late Vocation”by Paraclete Press
In this, my third trimester of life, I try to find a focal point in all I do.
The blaze of my days glow under that magnifying glass, yet do not incinerate.
God shows me how in evening light. His Love focused bright and pure.
Like the burning bush that embodied His presence, I am sustained, enlivened, illuminated, shoeless, but never reduced to ashes.
Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice. ~Robert Frost “Fire and Ice”
Whether we are consumed by flames or frost, if we rendered ash or crystal — both burn.
Yet ashes remain ashes, only and forever mere dust.
If encased in ice, a thaw can restore. Frozen memories sear like a sculpture meant to melt, and thereby the imprisoned are forever freed.
The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
August has been particularly wearing on so many folks this year, aging us beyond recognition after weeks of smoke-filled horizons. Those whose forests and homes have burned have nothing but cinders to return to. My concerns are mere in comparison, as the ash sent forth from such destruction is only irritant and inconvenience, rather than the residue of lost life.
Yet no one thrives in a world of fire and ash as we go gray as the sky, as if we have lived one summer too many.
I dream of what was: green and lush foliage and cool rains with the occasional welcome glimpse of a yellow, rather than red, sun.
Color the gray away to thwart the inevitable? Not this woman. I await a different beauty, even if only in my dreams…
God –the God who made the dust,
who made the stars,
who made the elements of which we are composed –
that same God chooses from the beginning to make his dwelling among us,
to live for all time like us, as a servant of the soil.
Her breath became steady where, years past, the farmer cooled the big tin amphoræ of milk. The stone trough was still filled with water: she watched it and received its calm.
So it is when we retreat in anger: we think we burn alone and there is no balm. Then water enters, though it makes no sound. ~Jane Kenyon from “Portrait of a Figure Near Water”
There is a balm badly needed for souls scorched by their own anger.
Allowing anger to smolder only leaves us awash in ashes. I am witness through my own eyes how my indignation inflames like an “inner arsonist”, leaving behind the shadows that forever cloud my vision. I will not see clearly until I stop feeding the fire.
Time to let the water enter in, to flood and cool the flame, to cleanse, renew and forgive, to restore a calm, silent and serene.
That is the balm badly needed. That is the balm freely given.
I just need to apply it to where it hurts the most.
What a piece of work is a man!
…And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” ~ William Shakespeare in Hamlet’s monologue
This dust left of man:
earth, air, water and fire
to quell its significance.
Only the transcendent hope
of eternal life restored
can breathe glory
into the plainest of ash.
We therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body… Committal service from The Common Book of Prayer