Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light believe in the light, so that you become children of light." John 12:35-36
It's past midnight. It's quiet but for the bus lurching on the street below and the general hum of the city out the window, and my son on the bed beside me, wheezing, breathing too fast. My sleep tonight is surface---a petal on still pond. I'm scared. His temperature is almost 104f. He is so hot, you see, and seems to be having difficulty breathing. Once when he was a baby, he had seizures due to fever and though that was six years ago I'm not yet recovered from the terror. I brace myself for the possiblity now. My husband is away; why is he away again? I am alone and feel abandoned. I'm watching my son's every breath and this burden of responsibility, this fear of the next moment, drags me through the hours.
Sometimes I see war all around us. The grocery shelves stripped of provisions; abandoned children stripping bark off the trees, scurrying under a plastic tarp in Central Park; the church full of a thousand people seeking refuge, escaping murder. The place where I kneel to pray, filled with the stench of stale bodies and fear. We are so afraid of our own death, we kill others thinking that will save us from it.
I have been entrusted to you ever since I was
born; you were my God when I was still in
my mother's womb.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and
there is none to help. (Psalm 22)
The candle goes out, the light dims. The middle of the day becomes dark, the shadows are long and purple-tinged. A weird chill fills the air. The ground is rocky and there are thorny bushes, and big stones here and there too. The nails, the vinegar and spear. Earth and stars and sky and ocean.
The mothers and I wait for the school bus near hospitals and sometimes a child with grey skin, bald from chemotherapy, wearing a mask, is pushed past us in a wheelchair by her parents. We smile and move out the way, but you can see our terror and helplessness. And our reverence too. When the bus arrives blinking its yellow lights, we move toward the bus to greet a fiesty pack of red-headed and blond, back-packed, fushia-and polka-dotted coated kids who come tumbling out the door saying, Hi Mummy! Do you have a snack? Holly stepped on my foot! Look what I made today! But everything is not back to normal, for a while that child lingers in our thoughts and prayers.
The night of Tenebrae, the candles had been extinguished one by one throughout the service and darkness filled the church. It was silent. A siron passed by outside which brought an eerie beauty---signaling both pain and rescue---to the darkness and the sadness. Liv was the acolyte who carried the candle down the aisle through the darkness. The candle cast light on her a face. Click... click... click... went her white Jessica Simpson heels on the stone floor----she loves these shoes for the heels---and up the steps to the altar, where she placed the candle and then continued on.
I believe we walk in the light, but we are always one step away from the darkness. I really do believe this.