The Trace

Rambling... because the thoughts of Tonight
are too awake to sleep until Tomorrow.
The wind was cold.

It carried the spice of winter on its breath, tugging fallen leaves round the parking lot in an airy whorl. The sky was already taken by midnight, throne to a gold-leafed moon which cast shadows of light against the clouds. I could feel the pavement through the thin soles of my shoes; I lingered there, waiting apart from the crowd of people that remained huddled about the lit-up church building. Every moment they lingered delayed our departure—but I didn’t mind. If only to be breathing in the cool wind alone, and to cling to a wasting moment beneath the moon, I was glad to wait.

I cupped my hands about my face, blocking out the glaring lights and blinking owlishly up at the dark unfurled sky as I sought the stars. I found them, glinting like shrouded diamonds in the scattered white-gold dust of clouded moonlight. With each glimpse and glimmer my heart bounded with delight, captured in the sort of childish enchantment that only emerges once a heart has grown old. Painfully old, perhaps: attuned to beauty through an aching fierce and terrible.

But even as I counted the sky-diamonds, I felt a thrust of a disappointment as childish as my delight. The stars were beautiful, yet still my heart sank at the sight of them. It seemed that their sparkling was tainted, as by a veil draped mockingly between earth and sky, letting through only the barest glimmers of reaching starlight. And as though what meager light did manage to squeeze through was forced to linger far above the earth, too far to touch, near enough only to spectate quietly on the happenings of a wretched world: a world deprived of starlight.

Frustration nipped within my chest like a dog rounding upon a frenzied hare. I half-reached a hand toward the sky, wanting to tear away the shroud that hung there and unveil the burning light of the stars, to let them fall upon the earth like flame to candle and watch the trees turn to quicksilver. To set the whole world alight… perhaps it would be too glorious, too beautiful a sight for us even to go on living. But it would be enough, if only for one blazing moment, to have seen the world in molten silver.

Yet as my hand parted from my face, the church lights darted back into my vision. Slowly I lowered both of my hands and turned to the light, blinking uncomprehendingly as the dim starglow fled before a flood glaring yellow-white. I wilted before it. Though the stars' dimness had pained me, at least they had been gentle. This light was cruel, stabbing through my eyes and into my mind until its brightness washed out the memory of gentler things. 
Still, I did not turn away. I gazed, like a mesmerized owlet, at the crowd of people before me. They were dark shadows against the brightness, milling about the sidewalk and lingering within the glass doors through which the light shone. Voices, laughter, shouting—sounds I had not noticed when my mind was consumed by the stars—all came rushing into my ears. Mocking, they surrounded me in a depth of loudness and confusion: loud for the strength of them, confusing not only for their clamor, but for their joy. I could not understand the laughter, nor the voices which spoke words I could not decipher, but were full of carefreeness. They lingered in the harsh, false light, embracing the setting as though it was beautiful. As though it was… home.

I turned away suddenly, tearing my eyes away from the light. Still the glare of it burned in my vision, a brand upon my eyelids. I felt my way around the side of the large church van parked beside me and pressed my back against it, sliding down to sit upon the ground. There, with the van between me and the brightness, I pressed my hands against my closed eyes and was still. As the light faded away I lingered still, huddled beneath the moon with the cold wind chasing my wrists and the murmur of voices muffled in the distance. I hugged my knees against my chest and stared upward, seeking the stars once more; when I found them this time I rested back my head and trained my eyes upon them, drinking them in. It might have been dim, but at least the starlight was real.

Real… oh, yes, it was real. But it was dying, too. I blinked, remembering what I had always known, and yet had somehow managed to forget. For I knew that the dimness of the stars was not merely a veil between earth and sky, but that the stars shone with a fading light, because they moved with the heartbeat of a fading world. Just as the vanishing moon reflected the light of a dying sun, and the oceans the glimmering glow of both; and just as every part of creation knew the groaning of death and sorrow—as with all of these, so it was with the stars, and so it was with me. I held no bitterness for the others and their comfort in the light. But somehow, in the aching that had made me a child again, I had glimpsed a beauty worth aching for… and when I had, my view of the things of this world could never be the same.

At last I heard the falling of footsteps and voices growing louder and nearer. I scrambled to my feet as the others wandered over to the place where I waited, finally having said their good-byes. They were still talking and laughing, and they took no notice of me, though somehow I didn’t mind. As the cold wind drove the shadows closer, everyone clambered into the van, ready at last to go home.

The cloud-wreathed moon hung above us as we drove through the darkness, and I huddled by the window and stared back at it where it loomed above the night like a lesser sun. I leaned my head against the pane, suddenly realizing that I was tired. Still I gazed at the moon as our journey went on, my thoughts wandering, as my mind grew more tired, to when I would at last be home.

What home? Only God knew which would gather me first: the home that claimed my wandering, or the home that stole my heart. Yet I knew, somehow, that my feet had longer yet to wander here, in the paths that wind between bitterness and brokenness and bind them in the end, at last, into some finished thing of Healing.

Until then, in the stealing sleepfulness of  the night, perhaps I would dream; if only for a little while, of the lights beyond the night -- stars that blaze like fire, as quick and fierce as a stab of silver.

2 missives:

Anonymous said...

My dear sister:

And a beautiful post, by the way. I don't see much of it, but your writing shows a lot of promise.

Jenny Freitag said...

You are right, Sparrow. I did get it. I got it Scroogely, watching you in your emotions like a phantom standing by you, but I have stood in your shoes too, beneath the same stars, beneath the same moon (odd, thinking of it that way), feeling the same delicious smallness under the spread of Deep Heaven. It's strange how big we can feel under that, under learning how small we really are...

I suppose it's what I was telling Anna. The stars and their light will die, the sun and her moon and their light will die. I will die. You will die. But we will find ourselves shining out beyond death, with death, the last pain, behind us - we will shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father. We dream of things unseen, you and I, and make them fire and molten silver.

I love you, Sparrow-mine. ^.^