The trees are candle flames flickering in the wind. The wind doesn’t howl, but it’s brisk, sharp. The leaves dive, pause and with a sudden updraft a bouquet of color is tossed upward. It’s Halloween. A hallowed time. A time suspended. Oct 31 is a sacred day on the wheel of the solar calendar. It is exactly half way between the end of summer (Sept 21) and the first day of winter (Dec 21). October 31 is the New Year for those of the Wiccan faith. Instead of black cats and frosty nights we have flaming trees this year. Ah, the weird joys of global warming.
And within the cloister of the trees and the vaulted blue, I feel a shimmer of fear in the air. It’s not just the gathering cold weather. We, are a people gone awry. Do you feel it? We listen to belligerent political shoot-him-dead duals; we buy fruits and broccoli packed in plastic; we are proud of driving Priuses 100 miles, when we need to be hopping a hybrid bus. Humans are on a runaway train and its picking up speed. In the US we are in the first car. We have chest thumping, hate language, teens bullying, suicides after your private life is on the internet. Will we let the train carry us over the cliff?
Where is hope? -it’s not in Obama or any giddy wins on election day. Where is reliable hope?
“So All friends be faithful, … be zealous for…truth,” says our Quaker prophet. Mary Waite writes to friends in 1679 heedless to the fear and chaos of 17th century England with its insurrections and moral ineptitude. Quakers were a movement and called themselves Publishers of Truth.
Mary Waite says, [the Lord] will deliver thee out of every unclean way and polluted path. …the day of the Lord is at hand, in which he will arise in … strength, to plead the cause of his suffering seed.” Geepers and OMG.
Can we buy into this reality? Yes, I can open my heart to the possibility that a Holy Spirit is at work. Just barely. Any victims of poverty and war are the suffering seed. I weep and cry out for the injustices. If I step out of my chronic denial and realize that my consumption of oil is ruining the planet, I mourn. I see pictures of oil coated egrets from Louisiana coast, I mourn. I met a friend having coffee who just lost her job, I mourn. This decade is an era of sorrow. And I have gone to 7 or 8 funerals this year already. There are funerals for 21 year olds in Mattapan and 15 year olds in Boston, and suicides in Wellesley. I cry and beg that our hearts of stone can be broken open.
I will plow this field of sorrow until Spirit shows me a way to transform the systemic violence. How do I plead the cause of my suffering? The suffering of those killed? The suffering of our planet? Mary Waite says, “fear the Lord and obey his voice in thee, and he will deliver thee out of every unclean way and polluted path.” May it be true. I often know what is the moral thing to do, and the voice isn’t a booming megaphone. God’s message comes in many forms, the wind, the miners trapped in Chili far underground, a oil drill gushing, the shimmering trees.
No one wins by manufacturing guns, amassing oil tanks or shooting others down. In 2010 there are many war lords bent on spilling blood. Combine this with the conglomerate way all humankind is pilfering to the point of strangling the earth, our home. Ahh, we can see heaven on earth. Hope is in the damp winds. The birch trees offer licks of yellow that do acrobatics across the lawn. The plum tree usually drops its leaves weeks earlier, by early October. Today its leaves are an especially deep shade of peach, luminous sails shaped like almonds. The maples are sorted mandarin/gold colors. The trees with buttressed branches rustle with pale green, lava yellow and fiery orange. Maple trees are everywhere: some are tiny squirrel flags of trees, and others large square-masted brigades towering over the plebeian plants.
… the weary travelers are refreshed, the feeble knees are strengthened, the broken spirit bound up, and the wounded soul hath oil poured on (Luke 10:34 the wounded soul is the Samaritan); who can but rejoice and be exceeding glad? for he hath put a new song in our mouths, he hath given his people beauty for ashes….Speak truth, Mary Waite. Give hope.