Reminders of home, part two


Raindrops were strewn in the grass like carelessly cast faerie lights strung about onto blades of green. The light from the streetlamp was a dull orange glow that cast over my driveway and onto the dim, uncut lawn. It was Tuesday evening, six o'clock or later, a frosty November day, and I sat on the steps leading up to my house, waiting. The rain that had poured from the sky all afternoon was gone, and in the cool of the night I watched the drops of liquid reflect the lamplight, and thought it the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I had stopped being accustomed to beauty, too often trapped inside the walls of my house to notice such things. I was too rushed, too busy, too hurt, to look at simple things, yet here was a very simple illusion, a play of light, that caught me in a moment of waiting. The darkness of the street, the coolness of the air, the strange warped light of the street lamp, all played together, making magic on my lawn.

I was waiting for my mother, waiting for her to take me to the women's bible study at our new church. We had formed out of the ashes of a broken fellowship late in October, when our pastor had been run out of his church by his three best friends - some friends those had turned out to be, I thought. Several hotel meeting rooms and a building search later, we were meeting in a church called St Stephen's, whose small regular body of members serviced less than 100. We were borrowing the beautiful building with stained glass windows, built early in the 1900s, for our early services and our weekly meetings.

I had never been so involved with the building of a community of faith before; I sang one Sunday a month and attended several Bible studies. It was good to be in a beautiful place, but my impressions were more fleeting images of the kindnesses I was shown for the first time in my life by churchgoers, the respect of adults who valued my insight and the kindness of near-strangers trying to grow together through a hard time.

I watched the reflections of light in the grass from the stairs a few moments more, before rising. I was wearing gloves, and stripped one glove off to brush my finger against the fragmented light. Water, ever a vessel, stained my fingertips with cool relief, and as I held my bare hand up towards the streetlamp, I saw stars glowing across my skin.

Stars, it is said, are glowing balls of flaming gas, but I had touched something cool, cool and sacred and full of power, that a mere orb of gas could not posess. Suddenly I wondered, crouching by the damp grass, surrounded by tiny points of light, if in some great, sweeter Other, the practicality of stars could be replaced by their beauty, and wishing on some such vessel held power.

If that were so, it seemed, the reflection of power had touched my hand, and I should be changed. Should I not be changed, from a life seeming an endless circle, ever coming back where I'd started, an overlapping track of high to low, unnaturally proportioned, rising at the beginning of each week, to fall down, darker, it seemed, than I'd ever remembered falling before. Was this the start of something, or the end? If everything repeated, if tomorrow was another day like last Wednesday, if the day after was Thursday like the one before, could I keep going? Would I remain so blind, filled with busywork images, shielding my eyes against the light of a sunset, rising too late to greet the dawn?

But no, I'd been touched by far-away lights. These lights, pure white and full of reflections, did not come from a lamp, they could not, they were too perfect, too wonderful. There was another light, a light with power, a light with purpose, and it had touched my hand, and it had graced my eyes. I saw it, and I believed. There was Other, Other was drying on my finger and sinking into my skin, Other permeating my vision and filling my sight. There was beauty, beauty beyond all reason, beauty in the heart of the night and the darkest place with no moon to guide.

I was staring at a thousand reflections of something somewhere else, the dim, distorted light of another land, a better land, and it was beautiful.

Unbidden, a thought rose, and I wondered, had the play of campfire light against damp grass after a rainfall seemed the same, in another land? When fighting a war, how blind one must have become to the beauty after a storm, yet, had Boromir ever paused, surprised to find something beautiful, and wondered where it had come from?

The front door opened, and I was back on my feet, walking towards the car. The moment of stillness had passed, the days wore on, but the lights remained ever in the back of my mind, coming upon me in moments when I felt I could not go on. Winter grew colder, there would be more to test me in the winding days to come, but I had touched Other with my fingertips, and seen Other with my eyes, and it remained in my mind long enough to stir my atrophied, abused sense of beauty enough to write poetry of my own for the first time in what seemed an eternity.

As if dismayed by clouded skies
the stars themselves did unarray
      and break apart
to fall upon the misty ground
shining mirrors in the grass
windows into a star-kissed land