A Thursday in November
… the hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails, surrendered 1
It was cold. November had arrived and so had winter – somewhat premature, the Bishop thought. Night had come, earlier now the clocks had lost their summertime.
It was dark. And yet, there was an almost full moon; shining down upon his footsteps. And there were long shadows; moon shadows. Walking across the park he knew so well, he needed no torchlight to guide him.
He stopped and looked heavenward at the canopy of stars. At first, just the brightest ones could be seen; then, as his eyes accustomed themselves to the vista of planets, they just poured out above him. He felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of space.
It is so vast? he thought. And there was so much more that the naked eye could never see. How could there be even more than this?
And the distances! So many light years away – whatever that means – so immeasurable that he could barely comprehend it all.
It was a sobering thought that those same stars above had looked down upon him when he was a child. They had witnessed his development through life; had seen his mistakes and times of illness and sadness, as well as the joy of the love in his life.
Where do I fit in to all this? he thought. Wherever it is I am but a speck; a mere piece of dust. I am dust and to dust I shall return. I brought nothing into the world and will take nothing out with me. And when I am gone from this earth, those stars will continue to shine on my children and their children.
It was truly a humbling experience, this looking into space; not an empty space, either, but one filled with so much wonder! It brings into perspective all the niggling irritations of life; of all the unnecessary stresses that, like the cut flowers in a vase, are but short-lived.
He stood, surrounded by the invisible congregations of years past and, as if preaching to himself, he thought deeply, poetically; I look up at the night sky and wonder. What is life for? There is nothing more important than to love God and my neighbour. Life with God is worth all the pain, grief, disappointments, hard work and sadness that can beset me. I awake each morning with thanks; with thanks for the life He has so generously given me. Each day is precious.
People ask, where is God? God is all around us – we see Him in the bright colours of summer or hear Him in the pattering rain of winter. We feel His love in the warmth of those with whom we share. He is in front of us and behind us; He is above us and below us; He is to our right and to our left; but, most important of all, He is within us. Abide in me … He pleads.
Yes, He does plead. It matters so much to Him that we share the love He has for us. He shares our sufferings, our sorrows, our failures, as well as all that is good. And so, I lose myself in these clear night skies. These stars have shone down on this earth for millions of years, and will continue to do so for millions yet. Compared to them, my own time-span of life is like a mere blink of an eye.
If I can, whenever I can, I will savour it, because life is so precious. All the good we do in our lives touches the hearts of those whom we have known, however briefly. In some mysterious way, the love we impart stays in this world forever; as if embedded in the very fabric of the earth.
We are all potential composers of the beautiful, inspiring music of life, and we leave our gifts for those who will continue to walk the paths upon which we tread no more.
Well … upon reflection, I think I would rather not be remembered just as a speck or a piece of dust. Perhaps, I would like to be a spark; even a very tiny, insignificant spark. For sparks, however small, have the potential to light up all around them; to light up the lives of others. Yes, if it is not too presumptuous a hope, that is how I would like to be remembered.
The Bishop, was glad to be alone with his deepest thoughts. He then focused upon the appointment ahead of him. For three days he would be away from Cornwall. But it was a sacrifice worth paying for his meeting with the Archbishop.
Through the media, and with the help of every parish priest in his diocese, he had asked anyone who had encountered the `man with the cards`, to write to him and share their experiences. Subsequently, the many letters he received were precious. The Cardman had reached so many people at such great depth. His immense love had been poured out, so generously; a perfect cameo in life`s rich blend of joy and tragedy. He had even inspired many who had little or no interest in anything spiritual. He had shown compassion and understanding, reaching out to all who encountered him – no matter how tired he was. Indeed, his needs were of little importance to himself.
It had to be Him.
And now He was gone. Where? No-one knows. The flat he rented under the assumed name of Joseph Chambers – which was initially significant – had since been found completely empty of any personal items. He had definitely gone; His work complete. Yes, it had to be Him.
The Bishop`s reflections were abruptly interrupted. He heard footsteps, treading through the autumn leaves. He turned and saw Him.
`I thought you had gone,` he said …
`Not quite yet, I wanted to speak with you before I go. You will not see me again as I am now – this Cardman`s body has completed its work. Instead, look for me in the lives of the many `Jaynes` of this world; in the needy souls of the homeless or broken-hearted; in the hearts of those who have heard my message, listened and responded. And be with the many who have yet to recognise their need for me. They will all see me in you. Like them, you, too, are sharing this light I have brought into the darkness. You already know the immense love of God. Continue my work …`
Then, with a gentle rustle of leaves as he walked away, the Bishop was alone again.
Alone .. and yet, never alone.
1 taken from `From Heaven You Came` – words and music by Graham Kendrick