The old wood smell overtook me as I slid between the pews. My feet still couldn’t touch the ground as I climbed up next to my father in the uncomfortable silence. As I yanked on the tight collar of my brothers out-grown shirt my clip-on tie was exposed for the fake it was. Fifteen minutes before the organ music signaled the start of the service we were sitting in our mentally assigned pews along with most of the members who had theirs staked out as well. Ten minutes early was late and got you the front rows or maybe even the Fellowship Hall where the folding chairs signified a lower status of worshipper. The lights seemed to work but as the organ began playing I looked up at the expensive chandelier-like fixtures and it was as if the dark wood of the room sucked the light out of them. It was a cloudy Sunday morning.
There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.
(Emily Dickinson: There’s a Certain Slant of Light)
I sit in my office unable to get any work done. It feels like a blanket has been laid over the world as the clouds came. The world isn’t dark it’s just – wrong. I don’t mean the light, white, airy clouds of summer days where you fashion them into animals and funny faces; I mean the dark, purplish clouds that lay low like fog with substance. They don’t bring a good cleansing rain but they tease you with a little spit and dust circles on your car: winter clouds bringing a chill and with a depression chaser.
Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where all the meanings are.
We’ve all felt the clouds laying on our life like heavenly hurt and too often the place where light should shine is the place that absorbs and takes more light from us. All we want to do is find a comforter and huddle in a corner chair and wait for it to pass but that is the exact opposite of a health.
After the first song where I stood trying to hold an amazingly heavy hymnal when all the professionals sang in four part harmonies a child, not much younger than me at the time, rang out with a “LA LA LA LA LA LA” after all other music had stopped. It was as if a ray of sun burst through the clouds and the stained glass windows to blind me with joy. Even my father smiled; pass the pink peppermints, I can make it through this!
With deference to Emily let me add a verse:
There’s a sky full of light,
That’s always, always here,
So push cloud cover away
And see the Light that’s near.