The Fireflies

No unnatural light disturbs the night here by the wetland. The night in this sacred wilderness is pitch dark. But last night the lights were everywhere. Click HERE for photos of fireflies, aka, lightning bugs.

THE DANCE OF FIREFLIES

Children frolic to catch you
in midair as you light up
backyards before bedtime
to watch you blink and glitter
in our peanut butter jars
until your little lights go out.

Grown-up children wake at night
in need of different jars and
by fate or chance catch
through the window a glimpse
of your midnight dance and glitter
on the wetland beyond all jars.

And children on canes and walkers
watch and wonder why we
with such little jars once sought
to capture you and make ours
the dance of fireflies that glitter
before and after our lights go out.

  • Gordon C. Stewart at The Pea Pod with the sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, herons, loons, redwing blackbirds — and fireflies. June 11, 2018.

 

The Light Shines in the Darkness

“Hold to the Good” once again speaks clearly what so many of us are feeling as Christmas nears. Thank you, John Buchanan and Marilynne Robinson. By all means, hold to the good, hold to the light the darkness cannot overcome.

Hold to the Good

I’m finding it difficult to be hopeful this Christmas. The slow, steady, daily attacks on what I hold dear and what I cherish about my country are eroding my spirit, even the week before Christmas.

My government is….
– loosening regulations designed to protect my grandchildren from the effects of environmental degradation,
– lifting restrictions on mining and drilling that will endanger wildlife and reduce the precious areas of stunning national beauty every president before this one, all the way back to Theodore Roosevelt, regarded as national treasures to be protected and preserved,
-alienating long-time traditional allies, asserting “America First” at the expense of the welfare of all people and all nations,
– turning away from empirical science about climate change and human responsibility for global warming which the vast majority of scientists, and even the Pentagon, regard as real threats to life on our planet,
-attacking any information it…

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The Infinite Interior (Dennis Aubrey)

dennis-boscherville

Dennis Aubrey of Via Lucis Photography

Dennis Aubrey’s Via Lucis photographic reflection on the different between Gothic and Romanesque architecture opens the Infinite Interior I needed this morning.

If you, too, are looking for light in the midst of darkness of whatever sort, this is for you. If you read nothing else, scroll down to the last paragraph and ponder our own infinite interior.

Dennis Aubrey, PJ McKey and Via Lucis are Views from the Edge‘s favorite companions on the way.

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Dec. 21, 2017

Via Lucis Photography

The subconscious is ceaselessly murmuring, and it is by listening to these murmurs that one hears the truth. ― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Reverie

Basilique Saint Austremoine, Issoire (Puy-de-Dôme) Photo by PJ McKey Basilique Saint Austremoine, Issoire (Puy-de-Dôme) Photo by PJ McKey

There is a conceptual difference between Gothic and Romanesque churches and cathedrals. While the Romanesque builders paved the way for the Gothic, there is a deep and wide chasm between the two worlds. It starts on the outside – Gothic cathedrals make you want to sit on a bench and admire the exterior. One enters later and experiences the wonders of the soaring internal architecture.

The exterior of Romanesque church architecture is different, much simpler. It is dominated by three features – the clocher, west front, and the chevet. The clocher (or belltower), like the contemporary church steeple, identifies the structure from the distance as a church.

Église Saint-Révérien, Saint-Révérien (Nièvre) Photo by PJ McKey Église Saint-Révérien, Saint-Révérien (Nièvre) Photo by PJ…

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“Elijah, Grandpa is God talking!”

Elijah is confused. He thinks night is day and day is night. Which is very inconsiderate of his mother. 

Elijah, you’re three weeks old now. You need to start sleeping at night.

What’s night, Grandpa?

Well, night is when it gets dark. It’s when the sun goes to sleep.

I like to sleep in the light. It makes me feel safe. Mom’s happier in the light.

No, she’s not. She’s really not. You need to be more considerate.

Uh uh! Mom’s afraid of the dark!

No, Elijah, she likes the dark. She just wants to sleep all the way through the night.

But what about me? I get hungry in the night! I need Mom.

I know you do. And she needs you. She trying to teach you something important.

Like what?

Well, like “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When you don’t sleep at night, you’re not treating Mom the way you want to be treated.

Grandpa, I just get hungry a lot. Mom loves me as she loves herself . . .  . Doesn’t she?

She does, Elijah. She does! But she needs your help. Mom needs her sleep. She just needs you to get into a biblical rhythm, like it says in the Bible. “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

Wow! God can talk?!

Yes. And right now Grandpa is God talking. If you want Mom to treat you the way you want be treated, you need to sleep through the night. Otherwise you won’t get fed. There will be a formless void and darkness all the time!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 21, 2017.

 

Hope for light on Epiphany

Today is the Day of the Epiphany when western Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (the “Wise”) at the manger in Bethlehem.

In this dark time of anxiety we look again for the light of an epiphany – a new awakening, a dawning of the light through the shadows – that will help us to circumvent Herod’s cruel way.

Sometimes light comes from the blind, as it did from Fanny Crosby (1890-1920), a poet and hymn writer who lost her sight when she was six-weeks old. Ms. Crosby was educated at the New York Institution for the Blind. She went on to teach English grammar, rhetoric, and American history. She never learned to tweet, but she left us more than one worthy thought that seems apt for this Day of Epiphany when a meeting is taking place on gold-plated chairs in a New York City penthouse.

Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
Wealth that can never be told;
Riches exhaustless or mercy and grace,
Precious, more precious than gold!

May God grant to our blindness the wealth that can never be told – the wisdom and light seen by Fanny Crosby.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, January 6, 2017

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela


Forever
A mandala
Mandela’s
Black Center
Radiated
Warm light
To the cold
Perimeter
Of the circle
Of White
Darkness

A Light
In the
Dark night
His light
Does not
Dim.

– Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Dec. 5, 2013

The school bus driver

The white cane moving back and forth in front of him belongs to seven-year-old Sam. The little guy moves cautiously, as the blind must do, hand-in-hand with a young woman I presume to be his mother, on his way into the Artist’s Reception.

Many of the people here on this Friday night are school bus drivers for District 112 School District. I’m wondering if perhaps Sam’s mother is a school bus driver.

Turns out that the featured artist, John Lince-Hopkins, is Sam’s school bus driver. John has invited Sam to see “Morning has broken: a Celebration of Light”, the collection of oil painting that now hangs on the walls of the Gathering Space at Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church in Chaska where I serve as pastor.

It’s an evening of revelation about a very special group of people who know their passengers by name, quietly welcome each child every morning, say good-bye to them in the afternoon, and watch to be sure that children like Sam with his white cane make it safely across the street no matter what dark clouds may cross their paths that day on their slow, daily journey toward adulthood.

Most of my teachers’ names are long forgotten. But I remember my school bus driver. Why we called Mr. Thompson “Tommy” is a sign of the time in which I grew up when, sadly, school bus drivers did not command the respect that lawyers and doctors do. “Good morning, Gordon.” “Good morning, Mr. Thompson.” All these years later Mr. Thompson stands out in my memory. Bus drivers are special people. Perhaps because they call no attention to themselves, they stand out in our memories as signs of light.

John welcomes Sam in that special way some bus drivers have. “Would you like to see a painting?”

John, whose art has sold for thousands of dollars in Texas, Alaska, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, is inviting Sam to do what most landscape artists most dread. He’s inviting Sam to touch his paintings, to “see” the only way Sam can: by touch.

Lifted high so he can touch the oils of the cloud formations and the light of “Morning Has Broken: a Celebration of Light” Sam reaches out his hand. Very carefully he runs his fingers over the dry paint that allows him to see the light and contours of the clouds and landscapes of his bus driver’s paintings, more raptly attentive to the art than those of us who presume to see what we are viewing.

On this night John’s art is a bus ride into the light of morning breaking into the darkness of night. A seven-year-old boy named Sam, whose eyes have never seen light, gets to touch it for himself.

Morning has broken like the first morning, blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning! Praise for them, springing, fresh from the Word!”

Alt-Facts and the ‘Anti-Christ’

Talk radio host

Talk radio host

Views from the Edge re-publishes this piece on Maundy Thursday, 2017. It first appeared here on March 24, 2010. Sadly, nothing much has changed. The U.S. was sucker-punched by the apocalyptic spirituality of the alt-right politics of Rush Limbaugh and Steve Bannon.

Something from the Christian tradition – the idea of ‘the Anti-Christ’ – is lifting its ugly head, a word and concept that could trigger unthinkable tragedy unless we clean up our civil discourse.

According to Harris Interactive Poll taken between March 1 and 8, “more than 20% believe [President Obama] was not born in the United States, that he is ‘the domestic enemy the U.S. Constitution speaks of,’ that he is racist and anti-American, and that he ‘wants to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers.’ Fully 20% think he is ‘doing many of the things that Hitler did,’ while 14% believe ‘he may be the anti-Christ’ and 13% think ‘he wants the terrorists to win.”

The poll reflects what we all know: our civic health as a nation is being poisoned by inflammatory rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle. This toxic disregard for truth lies behind the results of the Harris Poll. Trigger words like ‘socialist,’ ‘communist,’ ‘terrorist,’ ‘anti-American,’ and ‘the Anti-Christ’ and the allegation that America’s first black president is the nation’s chief domestic enemy take us beyond the McCarthyism of the ‘50s. This cocktail is lethal.

As a Christian pastor I rue the use of Christian scripture to stoke the fires of fear and hate. The Christian life – or spiritual life of any sort, for that matter – is a life of discernment about the powers that shape ordinary life. It is not blind to evil. But loud spirituality is an oxymoron. We need to be reminded that all the great religions hold some version of the essential tenet expressed in the First Letter of John. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still” and “If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”

Labeling the President of the United States ‘the Anti-Christ” gives deranged minds a license to kill . . . in the name of the non-violent, crucified Jesus. If some deranged American patriot like the Marine who plotted to assassinate the President should succeed . . . God forbid! . . . the blood will be on the hands of all who remained silent when the hate speech was being poured into the public stream of consciousness. And if you claim to be a disciple of Jesus, get yourself to church Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to ground yourself again in the love that conquers hate and fear.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Maundy Thursday morning, Chaska, MN.

Clouds

green storm clouds – Kay Stewart photography

Tonight the storm blew in

Darkness covering the deep.

Green-sky funnel clouds

threatening everything that is

passed over, passed over

blew on past

while beauty rarely seen swept in

as morning follows night.

yellow puffs of mercy,

puffs of wonder,

yellow cotton-candy light

puffed across the sky

pushed by first-light breeze

that cooled the skin

refreshed the air and

took my breath away!

– Gordon C. Stewart, Mother’s Day, 2004

Yellow cotton-candy clouds – Kay Stewart Photography