It seems a bit strange that harvest time was earlier this year. I asked one farmer what he would do with the "extra time". He replied: "Well, there is always something to work on!" It is strange how a casual remark imprints itself on the mind. That is not always a good thing. I think I will never be able to think about "binders" or "horses and bayonets" in the same way again. Election season will soon conclude, but we are beginning another season that will be with us for a while.
In pre-modern times without efficient lighting that makes night almost like day, the long nights and short days and the fallowness of winter with its cold and hardship led people to think about end things. Would there be days of warmth and growth again...or was that over? Would they survive this season... or would members of the family sicken and die? The turning of the seasons was serious business. Perhaps that is why in some of our churches, we talk about "end things". On All Souls or All Saints Day we remember the faithful departed. We mourn their loss, but commend them to God. We talk about when God will bring down the curtain on history and remake the world in a new and powerful way. We talk about final reckonings when God will right all wrongs and never leave us alone in the world again.
As we sit in the darkness of life, it is sometimes hard not to get so focused on hoping for the better future of God that we forget that we are also here to live before God in faithful and fruitful ways. Cursing the darkness never brings the light on any sooner.
I think about a friend who is charged with the care of an older parent. She remembers the days of her mother's vitality as she brings food to her trembling lips and combs her thinning silver hair. She cries over the fact that the soul of her beloved one has all but fled. Some days, she prays for release for both of them as she falls asleep for a few moments in the chair. Some have encouraged her to seek other care for her mother. This does not seem right for her, she says. Even in dark night, there is good work to be done. There are glimpses of light and a few laughs and smiles. The one who knows no darkness walks with us in ours. He has promised that. In our darkest hours, he still will say: "Let there be light!" There is still good work to be done!