Holy Gossip
Please, Please Me: Reverie on My Childhood

Father of Night


I am a walker and have my settled paths.  I follow a routine of time, place, and manner.  Normally I walk in the morning, beginning in pre-dawn darkness, watching the Eastern sky gradually brighten as I tread lightly on sidewalks or asphalt, hearing only the swish of my clothing as I brush along, passing no one, homes dark and sleeping.  Had I dog ears I might sense the vibrations of the snoring people or the murmurs of just-waking workers, the sighs of babies swaddled in cribs, perhaps the padded feet of children on hallways to parents' rooms --- awake, ready.  Morning, with its stillness, quiet, and faint stirrings is promise, a hope of new things, a day never lived before.  When the birds awake and begin their singing about midway through my walk, just before dawn, it is a chorus of hope.

Evening is something else.  Tonight I walk the same paths but in a different time.  I feel as I do when I rise in the middle of the night to stumble to the bathroom.  I know I'm on a familiar path, but it seems so different at night, and I am not myself.  The hills are harder to ascend, the uneven sidewalk more difficult to see, the birds absent, the cicadas massaging my ears with their crescendo chorus like a lullaby.  I find it more difficult to believe at night: more difficult to believe in the promise of a new day, maybe disappointed at the lost promise of this day, a little overcome by the descending darkness. 

A full moon mutes my melancholy. I know that it is reflecting the light of a seemingly absent sun.  But not just that.  I hear children playing in backyards after dinner, laughing.  Smells of dinner waft through windows open to the evening air.  And in the "golden hour" just before darkness descends, the last slanted light of day gives a glow to everything, makes the hard edges of rooftops, walls, trees, and streets soft and yielding.


When my son was young and sometimes afraid of the dark, I used to remind him that nothing had changed in the dark.  All his toys were still there, as were his parents, only darkened.  I wasn't speaking the whole truth, of course, because it truly is different at night, in darkness, but I was asking him to trust me, letting him know that I was there in the darkness, just there on the other side of his voice.  He is not so different than me.  Darkness tugs at my belief as well.  And yet, walking darkened paths, the dappled light of streetlights under my feet, I am reminded that the Father of Light inhabits the darkness too, right there on the other side of my voice, Father of darkness as of day, "the One of Whom we most solemnly praise."

In the end, there is no darkness.  The promise is that "there will be no more night" (Rev. 22:5).  Turning the corner, I see the light of home, yellow warmth spilling from the windows.  I quicken my pace.