Thursday, September 26, 2013

under the night sky

A [night sky classified as] Bortle Class 1 is so dark that it's bright. That's the great thing - the darker it gets, if it's clear, the brighter the night is. That's something we never see either, because it's so artificially bright in all the places we live. We never see the natural light of the night sky. -Via here.
When I was in high school, I spent a few weeks of each summer working at the camp I grew up attending. Those first few years working there, the only thing I was old enough to do was waitress in the kitchen. It was mostly grunt work - in the kitchen three times a day, sweeping and mopping the whole dining hall every night, washing out ketchup lids and reshaping butter sticks (yes, we did that). But we got free time in between meals and at night. In August we served rental groups and had fewer restrictions on our free time, which meant we had the chance to do all the things we'd always wanted to do at camp but didn't want to risk getting in trouble for. One time, a few waitress friends and I slept outside on the dock by the lake. The uneven wood boards were terribly uncomfortable, but we were there for the experience of it. To say we did it. Except that in the middle of the night we woke up wet from dew and unable to really sleep well. So we bundled up in our sleeping bags and grabbed our pillows. We'd forgotten a flashlight, since our plan was to return to our cabin after the sun had risen. The first part of the path back was under a dome of tree branches and leaves that blocked out any light coming from the night sky, and we couldn't see a thing. We held tight to each other and took small steps forward so we wouldn't trip on anything. We'd traveled this wide path hundreds of times before, but without any light it was completely foreign to us. It wasn't long until we made it to the clearing and the night got lighter around us.

I've been thinking about walking in darkness and how scary it can be, and how it makes me want to find some kind of light, any kind, to break the darkness. But really, if I'm able to resist these urges, the night can be light on its own.

Reminds me of these verses from Psalm 139: If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Friday, September 20, 2013

fall is here

This week fall came to Southern California. Summer always holds on through most of September, sometimes even pops back up in October. That picture of a grinning sun with streaming rays taunts me: tell me you love me, tell me you want me to stay forever, it demands, just like all the celebrities with their oversized sunglasses and egos. But now: a cool breeze fills the house when we open the french doors, I slept with a sweatshirt on the other night, and the sky is an indescribable color at 7pm, light and dark touching and the moon shining and the mountains reflecting all of this off their mysterious ridges.

Finally. Why does it always seem like such a long time coming?

But even with all my anticipation, the shift in season caught me off guard. I had to remember, yes, this is what fall feels like, this is how things change. I have to make room for it. It will be sticking around for a few months.

And it will be sticking around for only a few months. To remember that is reassuring because even though I wanted this new season, it brings its lack. Leaves fall, light wanes, eventually birds stop their singing. But soon enough the season will change again and bring with it new gifts, new growth. The hillsides here are filled with bright green things after the rest and rain of the fall and winter.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

a mercy

It always happens over dishes, this explaining of ourselves to each other. I pumped soap onto the wet sponge and lathered it over the pot as you started, as you told me you didn't know how to start. You explained your piece as best you could while I focused on the dishes, on piling them up carefully on the drying rack so that they wouldn't fall. I squeezed the sponge dry, turned off the water, and turned to stand against the counter. I knew I needed to respond but wasn't sure how I would do it without crying the tears that have been coming so easily, like a deep well with no bottom. We both acknowledged we didn't want things to change, and we both agreed that they probably would, maybe they already had. Just the day before I'd been lying on my bed looking at the bookcase you helped me move into my room when the thought, "what will I do without her" came to my mind, and with it new tears. I hadn't really let myself think about it that way until I remembered the bookcase, how heavy and big it was. It had weighed on my mind for days, how to get it into the house from the garage where I'd put it together. It was a job for more than one person.

We talked for fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, each of us saying basically the same thing over and over. You let me feel my pain, which to some might have seemed merciless, but was a mercy to me. You didn't try to dry my tears or cry them with me, but you let them flow, maybe hoping with me that the well will dry up someday soon. Later, I took out the cake you brought home for me the night before, and when I asked if you wanted to share it, you said no. You brought it home for me, not for us. So I ate it alone.