The Sweet Gum tree outside my kitchen window has finally dropped all of its leaves. It is a sure sign that winter is here. The nights are lengthening toward the Solstice next week when the longest dark will, once again, begin to make room for spring.
I always look toward the spring. But this year, more than most, I find myself relishing the dark. Somehow my body and my spirit know what my intellect can only glimpse and what my “to do” list will never capture: the need for rest.
There are so many topics I thought to tackle this morning: The hope some of us are finding in Alabama, of all places, this week. The changes in tax law that will deepen inequality in this nation. Do you know that the UN monitor on extreme poverty and human rights is on a tour not of some third world country but of the United States?
But my spirit is calling me to be present to the darkness, the rich and renewing darkness from which the life of the earth will be reborn.
This has been a soul-sapping year. The news of the world has tested our spirits, many of us. Perhaps like me, some of you are feeling worn down by the constancy of the assault on our values.
There is a need for rest. And a need for healing.
As we move toward the Solstice and the busyness of the winter holidays, I offer this short piece in hopes that it may speak to you as it spoke to me this morning:
Balm in Gilead
by Magda Rolinc
I don’t know where Gilead is, but if I did,
I would fly all night through wind and darkness
I would jump out of the plane and kiss the tarmac
And ask the taxi driver to take me to the caves.
He would nod darkly, knowing my need
And drive through crowded streets—honking,
And the smells of sweat-stained robes and arguing in the market
He would not stop for the pile of pomegranates by the side of the road
Nor the beggar’s children with large, hopeful eyes.
No, we would drive to the cool wet caves where the balm is found in niches
Carved out by needy fingers.
I would reach into that crevice and find the sticky Balm of Gilead.
Smearing it on my forehead, my eyes, the back of my neck.
I would listen to the beating of bat’s wings
And feel the balm’s warmth seep into my heart
As sure and comforting as Vapo-rub
After congested sleep.
Blessings of this season.