My candle batteries are still lasting. They’ve brought me light since Wednesday, but this morning I need more. So I curled up in the embrace of the two gigantic angels who always stand at my back, have my back. More than one person who has eyes to see such beings has pointed them out to me. At first I kept asking them for their names but they never told me, so I called them “Frick and Frack.” It stuck. So this poem is for them.
Standing at our backs, Your expansive wings enfold These unfledged humans Who recoil from the miasma of hate That now pollutes each breath we take In this land of the once free.
Recoil or cower, Which is it?
We shelter within stalwart wings waiting For healing and spirit-washed air To fill our lungs.
This poem by Wendell Berry, simple in the stark power it offers, has become the center piece in the Advent rituals of Seattle Mennonite Church (https://seattlemennonite.org). This season is offering me the opportunity to identify what is blooming in me now. Not what will bloom when covid passes. What booms now.
Berry’s poem invites us to fear not those ubiquitous travelers, dark feet and dark wings, for they are the essence of our humanity. They are the redeemed coals that smolder in the cauldrons of our souls, the sparks of light we bring into the dark and out of the dark.
Breathing in I become the dark. Breathing out I disperse light.
Breathing in I receive the bloom. Breathing out I release despair.
Breathing in I am peace. Breathing out I release anxiety.
How powerful it is when together we harness divine light for the greatest good. In this tenuous time of political unrest and hounded by sickness and death, may we be intentional about gathering those sparks of light ignited in the fire of our suffering. May we not tire of stoking our light and dispersing its healing warmth.
May it be so.
(Ahh. Such holy words, yes? But just yesterday a man in our small elevator invited more folks in against my expressed request. What did I do? I yelled, “No!” Then I got out. That little light of mine was not shinning very brightly! Or was it? He wouldn’t listen and I took care of myself. A different spark of light, but illuminating, nonetheless? You be the judge!)