“The moonlight arrives late in the long, hot days of August. There is that often unnoticed world between sundown and starlight called dusk where deer and other night creatures dare to emerge from forest and foxholes to watch the sunset with poets, prophets, and lovers.
They come in silence, alone not alone, to the edge of what we call the civilized world; a land of traffic lights and flashing neon signs. This is the land of Middle Earth for those creatures human and four- legged who come together on country roads and backyards to let the enchantment of not quite day not quite night hold them as the intensity of daytime activity gives way to moonlight and haunted forests.”
Darkness takes over the night sky late at the height of summer in eastern Kansas, which allows the observant time after the work day to watch the sunset from one’s porch. The sky over the landscape is much bigger than in the city and storm clouds, no matter how hard they try, can’t just sneak up on you. For those who can read the signs in the sky, the incoming clouds from the west, mixing white and gray with a sky transitioning from blue to orange, red, purple, and navy blue to finally black provide a chance to set the problems of life aside for a living motion picture.
There is a sort of haunting feeling that comes with stopping long enough to observe the grand beauty of a Nature that’s big enough to ignore the world around and below it. A wolf howls in the unseen distance and the world becomes bigger, at first a little frightful, but then more mysterious and eternal. I’ve missed this, as much as I love the big city and all the hustle and bustle that goes with it, there is definitely a peace that transcends the cares of the world if only until it’s time to go to bed.
One of the themes reoccurring in my life lately is the pursuit of an abundant life. Can it really be pursued? At least successfully? I’m beginning to think not, it looks more and more like abundant life can be obtained about as successfully by force of will as the joy out of nowhere I’ve mentioned a few times earlier. As I sit here, at least, abundant life proceeds out of the choices that I make, like choosing to spend time in the Word and choosing to sit outside and watch the storm front roll in.
The storm, may in fact, produce damaging winds and even a tornado but that possibility is exciting even though it may bring danger along with it, maybe it’s exciting because it is dangerous. All this is to say that slowing myself down at times allows me to actually live a little in the midst of all this merely existing. The evil that hunts us on a daily basis wants us to feel hunted moment to moment so we get caught up in the feeling of being able to do little more than escape a danger that won’t let us rest. In that sense, the stalking lion has already won. If all we do is concentrate on survival then the thought of actually living doesn’t occur to us; at least not me.
Let the lion roar again tonight. He frightens me at first, but his cries remind me that there’s more out there in the wild, something bigger, more mysterious, and eternal that will outlive his power. That is why the night, though it keeps me from seeing much of what is around me, things that will not last, it also excites and comforts me because it allows me to see instead the things that will.
This is all, of course, a metaphor. Yes, the lion (Satan), momentarily has the power to try to steal, kill, and destroy not only my abundant life but my life itself if I succumb to the fear. And his is a very real threat because evil is relentless like war. But the picture is so much bigger. It may not seem like it when I’m running for my life or standing up in, but losing, the battle, but the truth is the journey I’m on will last long after the lion (evil) has been defeated. My savior, J, died on the cross, but he rose again and sin and death died with it. That’s the Big Picture. That is why the darkness of night, which can momentarily scare me, really inspires me.
“I’ll take the enchanted forest tonight, follow the lone doe as she drifts back into the familiar neighborhood of ancient trees, their struggling saplings, and their fallen grandparents. I feel your heartbeat as you follow along through the leaf and limb covered pathway, my friend, a little unsure of why you feel compelled to join me on this quest for who knows what. I don’t think it a sin, I begin in answer to your anticipated question, to expect to see a unicorn or night hawk between the shadows of the redwoods who stand and watch.”