Light on the Water
Excerpted from WHITE CHINA by Molly
(April 2005, $16.95, Paper)
permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Imprint.
What drew me down to the water's edge was the
light. There had been enough of a southwesterly wind
to give the lake a bit of a ruffle, and the sun, even
partly veiled by cloud wisps, was lighting the water
in a broad strip of dappled brilliance, leading the eye
out into broader, deeper waters.
I found a spot for my car and walked down past the limestone
around the bridge and past where the ducks hang out,
along by the old pier, to the tiny shingle beach, braving
the wind, which was whippy and not quite cold.
light moved as I did, naturally. You pursue light on water,
but you don't actually ever catch it; children learn that
one very early. But at the shingle beach, the light seemed
to stop, and so did I, and looked out at it, the glow of
the water against the softness of sky.
came back to me then, a certainty that I'd lost for a while...that
I thought I might have lost for good, in fact: the certainty
of God's ultimate victory over all the forces that
divide us from love. I'd gotten sadly cynical
about love of late; I'd seen it bash itself like this water
rocks, making no apparent difference, retreating
in what looked like defeat, into the silence of
seen how spirituality can become a way of evading one's
own real issues, how Godwardness can actually
be a full-out flight from painful
realities. And I'd retreated myself into the
silence of...not unbelief or
disbelief, but belief suspended in the chaos
and pain. I had found myself retreating into
a silence devoid of any whisper of God.
here was the light on the water, no longer moving, still
not reachable, but there. Just for a moment, I knew that,
however little it looked that way to me, I too was standing
in the same light. Just for a moment, I knew that
while I felt like a darkness absorbing the
light, to God I was water reflecting it in glory.
wind died down
for a moment, and just for that moment, I
felt all the warmth of the April sun. I thought how quiet
God's victories might
be. Maybe for some, there's the glorious
knock-you-off-your-donkey experience, but
that's never been my way; always for me, it's not the rainbow
but the groundwater quietly seeping up from sources I can't
begin to imagine.
thought of the quiet sense of right that comes in the stillness
left by the clamor and shrillness of wrong, of the painful,
healing silence that
enters when the shouting falters, exhausted,
of the emptying-out that leaves you not
lonely but peaceably alone.
the riotous crowds, first adoring, then hostile, after
the screams and the suffering, there's the quiet
of the tomb, and that looks at first like utter
then, in the deepest stillness that comes before the first
birds wake, there's the
soundless rise and fall of the chest,
the whoosh of blood, the whispered singing
the smallest sounds as the shroud comes off and he
sits up, swinging around, setting his
feet noiselessly on the cool stone, that neither
cries nor shatters but silently takes
fasting from joy this Easter, turning my back on proclamation
and alleluias and trumpets and the loud singing of joyful
hymns; instead, I'm feasting on silence,
the quiet steady lap of ruffled water,
the silence of this light, the only sound that of the wind.
where I can sense the
real victory, the one that endures:
that love will have its way in the
end, and that “all will be well and
all will be well and all manner of
things will be well.”
not today or tomorrow, maybe not
even next year. But inevitably, when God and I are ready.
©2005 Molly Wolf
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