Posts Tagged ‘John 1:5’

Between the Darkness and the Light

February 7, 2013
Still Life of Fishing and Camping Memories

Still Life of Fishing and Camping Memories

Nodding gently in his rocker beside the rusting lantern, the weathered farmer stared across the dimly-lit garage at the jumbled remembrances of his former years–fishing, camping, Dining Car coffee and Lucky Strike cigarettes.  His tired eyes were growing dim at the close of the day.  The Jim Beam in his tumbler was slowly drawing him down.  But his memories waxed even as his strength and vision waned.  Once more, he read from the small volume of poetry that lay in his lap.

I cannot find my way: there is no star 
In all the shrouded heavens anywhere; 
And there is not a whisper in the air 
Of any living voice but one so far 
That I can hear it only as a bar 
Of lost, imperial music, played when fair 
And angel fingers wove, and unaware, 
Dead leaves to garlands where no roses are.

No, there is not a glimmer, nor a call, 
For one that welcomes, welcomes when he fears, 
The black and awful chaos of the night; 
For through it all–above, beyond it all– 
I know the far sent message of the years, 
I feel the coming glory of the light. 

Edwin Arlington Robinson 

Looking up from his book, the old man peered intently into the darkened recesses of the Canada Dry crate, barely discerning the dark, distressed leather knapsack from his early touring days . . .

The summer morning in the Athens Plaka was as dreadfully hot as any Texas summer day.  Sitting wearily at an outdoor cafe table with the taste of Greek coffee in his mouth, he gazed across the street, through the white dust rising from the shambling sandals of tourists, and saw, hanging on a post of a leather shop, this dust-coated dark-leather, used knapsack.  Dashing across the street, he inquired of the short, stocky mustachioed Greek proprietor:

“How much for the knapsack outside?”

“Oh no!  Too old!  Too dirty!  Have new ones! From Italy!  Finest leather!”

“No.  I want the one outside.”

“It’s used!  Worthless!  Only for show!”

“I like it.  I’m American.  From Texas.  I like old and dirty.”


“Character.  More interesting.  I want it.”

“Twelve dollars, OK?”

“Deal.  Here you are.  And an extra gold coin, with my thanks.  Kalimera!

Gazing at the abused knapsack this night, he mused over all the places it had traveled, and the assorted cargoes once wrapped in its embrace: books, journals, tools, tobacco, bottles of beer, small boxes of leaders, dry and wet flies, fishing reels . . . What a contrast between the darkness of the leather, the even darker inside of the crate, the ultimate darkness within the knapsack, and the blazing light of the Greek sun on that hot day, the whiteness of the dusty street, and the gleam of the marble monuments everywhere.  Darkness and light.  Laying aside his poems, he reached to the small table beside him and picked up his old worn and tattered Latin Bible, glad for what he retained from Catholic School.  Thumbing through the crinkled yellow-stained leaves, he found what he was looking for:

Et lux in tenebris lucet

Et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt.

And the light shineth in the darkness;

And the darkness apprehended it not.

John 1:5 (American Standard Version)

He reflected on the reality of life as a balance between the light and darkness, thinking of his fading days, his ebbing strength, and what still remained within his abilities.

Yet a little while is the light among you.  Walk while ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not.

John 12:35

He smiled inwardly as he slowly nodded off to sleep.  The room was dark, but he remained in the light.  The memories were bringing back the light.  And the printed words on the page were bringing light (“The entrance of Thy word bringeth light”).  And the dawn would soon bring new light, a new day, and new opportunity.  It was the closing of another good day.  It was alright for now that the darkness was drawing near.

Thanks for reading.