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Night Light

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
  — Hopkins

Stepping outside after the fall of first dark. Rose and gold leaves shrugged off the Copper Beech and the Japanese Maple glimmer on the damp pebbled walk in the soft light from the porch. I turn west along the sidewalk towards the corner and glide into the brief shadows of the cedars. There, beyond their edges as I glance up… There, behind the nimbus of mist haloed around the streetlight… There the new moon rises tilted like some open, supplicating palm against the darkening last faint line of day fading far away in the West.

Cupped in the upturned arc of the new moon I see, faintly, the disk of Earth’s shadow — dark against darker dark.

I’m out on a very small errand for a quart of milk at the corner store. Only a few seconds in the night. Only a few steps in the night when going either to or from. Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.

And yet here I am. Here we all are.

Here we prepare with milk and bread for one more day of the Earth turning before the sun; for one more cycle of the moon turning around the Earth. Waning and waxing, in and out of shadow, obscuring and then revealing, and then again obscuring its face. And this cycle (Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.) is one of twelve cycles that adds up to one more cycle of the Earth around its single star. A star that is utterly unremarkable. ( Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.) And that star is moving inside its own revolving galaxy, moving at 514,000 miles per hour towards Vega in the constellation Lyra. And from that home star, at only an 8 million mile remove, I — or you — or someone else entirely — steps out into the night and goes to the corner store for a quart of milk. (Ordinary. Unremarkable. Mundane.)

You say you don’t believe in a Creator?

You say you don’t believe in grace?

You say you don’t believe in miracles?

Walk with me to the store for a quart of milk. Walk in star shine from the night lights forged in the impossible fury of the First Moment.

Open your eyes.

Open all your eyes.

Look outside — look beyond — yourself.


“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”


[November 2011 — Seattle]


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jwm November 12, 2021, 9:54 AM

    Browsing through the news of the day leaves my neck weak, my head heavy, and my eyes in the dirt. Get away from the desktop, and go out back.

    Santana conditions in So Cal, today. Clear skies, and ninety degrees in November. Step outside, and it’s as beautiful a day as God has ever made. A day for starting to work on the stone after taking care of one mundane errand:
    A quick trip to the store.

    Pull out onto the boulevard. On this clear warm, and gorgeous day, everyone I see is running around with that filthy mask strapped to his face. I want to curse, and berate every compliant one of them. Any hope that the beauty of the day would sustain a similarly sweet mood in me is ground into the filth of this age and time. My gut drops, and hate surges into the empty space.

    Back to the suburban hermitage. The day is still beautiful. The cat’s in the yard, and I got work to do. Maybe get my eyes out of the gutter. I can hope. Pray a little.

    Or have some more coffee, and get to work.


  • Ann Barnhardt November 12, 2021, 9:59 AM

    …the impossible LOVE of the First Moment.

  • David November 12, 2021, 10:13 AM

    I look at my hand and I see the work of GOD.

    • Vanderleun November 12, 2021, 10:20 AM

      Especially when one asks, “How do I move my hand?”

      • David November 12, 2021, 10:47 AM


  • Francis W. Porretto November 12, 2021, 12:45 PM

    The heavens themselves proclaim the glory of God.

  • Mike Austin November 12, 2021, 2:39 PM

    I cannot understand a man who refuses to believe in God. The One True God. Christ and the Holy Ghost. And yet I was one such man a thousand years ago. I can’t remember why. It was not a case that I investigated, researched, thought about—no, not at all. I simply never thought about Him.

    But He was thinking about me. Without going into detail, I should right now be in prison or be in the grave. In a just world I would be in one or the other. But God refused me justice; He offered me Mercy. The reality of my situation came almost in a flash of light. I at long last knew the real Mike Austin—all the lust, the arrogance, the lies, the damned Pride. It was then that I wanted to die. It was then that God led me into the Light. I have remained there ever since—more or less.

    Damn Sin. Damn Temptation.

    In a few weeks I will be leaning my bicycle on some tree in the Piney Woods of Texas, lost in some forested woodland. I will set the tent and fire up the stove. Sitting alone in my camp chair, I need not ponder the existence of God. For He will be there with me, all around me, all through me.

    I am the luckiest man in the world.

  • Rob Muir November 12, 2021, 7:46 PM

    A few years back, I stumbled across this song that reframed my thinking.

    I have an enhanced sense of gratitude for the world and my place in it.

    • Mike Austin November 12, 2021, 11:40 PM

      I began to see back in 1991. Since then everything is Holy; everything’s a miracle.

    • Vanderleun November 13, 2021, 8:28 AM

      Thank you for that, Rob. I didn’t know it and now I love it.

  • SteveS November 13, 2021, 11:14 AM

    …And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs–
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
    -by the other Gerard, …Hopkins

  • jwm November 13, 2021, 11:49 AM

    Thank you very kindly. Truth to tell, I regretted dropping such a sour ass comment on an inspirational thread, but, I get in those moods…
    This morning I left a comment about the web of coincidence on the “Out of the Rain” post. Coincident is not accident. Hopkins is one of my favorites.
    God bless.