Posted by: Peadar Ban | March 8, 2011

It Rained All Night Long

It rained all night long.  The weak gray light uncovered for me a dreary scene, tired, depressing.  It is past 7:00am as I write this and the light has not changed since I awoke over an hour ago.  Color has been bled away.  There are no shadows at all.  A thin mists stalks the street, haunts the dripping lower branches and black trunks of the sullen trees.

Oh, there are patches of snow to help me think of what once gleamed and sparkled in the cold merely three weeks ago, and fell like sugar sometimes, but more often this winter like an avalanche thundering down a mountainside, reminding me how small I was.

Looking out my window this morning, I surveyed the scene before me in all its weariness and remembered what had been; the way it looked just a little while ago:

After a Great Storm, A Cushion Covers All

But, all of that was gone.  What was in its place was what my mother used to call, with some drama, a “tawdry mess”.  Last Autumn’s fallen leaves were pasted flat against the brown earth, broken branches scattered everywhere.  The place looked like a battlefield after the war was over, and the sky wept steadily on the sad scene.

But where snow still covered the ground was the most sad.  There was true ugliness where once had been, well what you see above, a kind of bright and joyful purity.

True Ugliness Where Once Bright Purity Was

The photo doesn’t do justice, if justice is the proper word, to how it appeared in the bleak light of morning.  Rain had washed away the covering of ermine richness the last snowfall had put over the truth, exposing the ungodly ugliness beneath.

I sat, thinking about the whole scene, staring out the window and wondering what I was really seeing….

What Did I See?

Just at the end of my neighbor’s drive is the huge pile of dirty snow you see above; between it and me the naked branches of  the tree in front of my house with its one twisted leaf clinging in futile desperation.  It will fall before long and make its contribution to the mess below.  Dead all these months, decaying in place until some fresh breeze blows it into oblivion.  That is the way it is, the way it has always been, I can hear you saying.  Where is the mystery in that?

Well, so it is, and so I do think, too.  I saw that and knew that if enough snow falls again next year the scene will be the same some weak morning in a new March or April.

The difference is that this morning I also saw the whole scene as me, and as each one of us, exposed.  Under the thing scrim of our public persona, the face we wear to foil ourselves and others into thinking we are what we are not, lies what?  What have I hidden away from myself and others?  What is still there?  What do I carry underneath? What weight of darkness and  disease and death clings to me,  burdens me?

This was what began to bubble up inside of me as I looked outside this morning in some sort of contemplative mood.

Rain had fallen all night long.  I saw the gray skies, the black trees, and below them, between the houses where most of us were still asleep, and along the street and drives I saw mounds of filthy snow; snow that wasn’t there only three short weeks ago…  What was there then was new fallen from the heavens, and clean, and pure.  The filth I saw was the filth we had put there.

I knew if I were to take an honest look at myself the same sight would greet me.  I would see the filth underneath that I’d much prefer not to have to see.  It would be an ugly sight, piles of blackness, hard nuggets of filth.  It is the same for all of us, my neighbor, my friends, you.  Yet I know deeper still there is goodness waiting. Waiting beneath the filth heaped upon it; for it to be washed away.

I cannot rid myself of it.  Who can, then?  Who can, indeed.

“Whence cometh our help?”

It rained all night long…



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