On that day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. – Joshua 10:12-13 (NRSV)
The sun is limiting its face time with the northern hemisphere these days. Dawn rises each morning with slow luxury. Noon casts long shadows. Dusk reddens the autumn leaves in late afternoon.
I’m grateful for the lengthening nights in this time of glaring injustice, gaudy lies, and flashing threats of violence. I can’t imagine taking joy in a day without darkness, a day of blazing light, a day without the reprieve of time, a day when the moon waits in the wings so the sun can abet catastrophic horror.
But even without the sun standing still, daily upheaval has quite an overwhelming intensity. As does election news. As does pandemic news. As does pretty much everything else. My social media is filled with calls for the brilliant work of justice to be unrelenting. Righteous messages and unrighteous messages alike radiate the theme: We cannot stop! We must persevere! Let the sun stand still to fuel our work!
Meanwhile the moon is spending an increased amount of time whispering a different necessary truth: Here, for all, are the lengthening hours of the night, a gift for repentance and restoration. For quiet and calm. For dreaming and releasing.
We need the moonlit hours, as much if not more than the sunlit hours, for the work at hand. Or at least, I need them. Because what will be the value of virtuous victory under the sun if we kill ourselves (and others) in the process?
Here is the sun, willingly waning, so that our agitated spirits might do the same.
Prayer: Give us this day our rest.
written for the UCC Daily Devotional
Not me, O Life, but us.
Not mine, O Life, but ours.
As far as the eastern horizon,
as far as the western sea,
all that is and all that can be.
Not us or them, O Life, but every.
Not us or theirs, O Life, but all’s.
From the first wisp of dust
to its final sighing breath,
in life and death, in glory and struggle.
Not for or against, O Life, but with.
Not won or lost, O Life, but multiplied.
As long as the rivers,
as timeless as the stars,
as faithful as the sunrise.
Because I am not without us, O Life.
Because ours is naught without every, O Life. Always.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O God, is the smoke that clouds the air with the prayers of the wayfarers and the downtrodden, with the songs of grief and hope, protest and sacrifice. Sweet, sweet, sweet, O God, is the oil that blesses the heads of the ancestors and pours down...
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In advanced swimming lessons and in lifeguard training, many years ago, treading water was my favorite part of the final tests. Far from being a challenge to exert as much energy and strength as possible, treading water was a challenge to conserve energy as much as...
Let me behold your face, I prayed, but instead you met me in the dark and bent me into painful knots. Let me be relieved, I pleaded, and instead you laid a path among my adversaries. Let me prove my heart, I declared, but instead you withdrew to tend the song of...
Then God said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. Moses alone shall come near the LORD; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.” -...
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things to great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother. - Psalm 131:1-2a (NRSV) Maybe you’ve been feeling this...
Milcah sang a lullaby to her granddaughter Rebekah, born to Bethuel, You are a queen, gifted and beautiful, a sovereign over kings. You are the gladness of ancestors, and the celebration of the future. And Rebekah believed her grandmother Milcah, owned the inheritance...
We have listened to the wrong gods, O Holy Life, to the ones that say "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" and the ones that say "Your help is in the rat race." Hear your people protest: "How long?" Hear your people confess: "No more!" We have said our prayers to...
The officials said to the king, “Jeremiah ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the people who are left in this city.” King Zedekiah said, “Here he is – I won’t stop you.” So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern. - Jeremiah 38:4-6 (adapted)...