I remember the cooing of the doves, in the town in France where I grew up. They were collared doves, and they roosted up among the rooftops of the town, like pigeons do in other towns. I had forgotten about them, the way they used to coo when the sky started to grow soft with evening. I remembered it the other night and almost cried.
I don't know if I can explain how it is. How you can see one thing like that, those doves, and for a moment that is everything. It fills your vision like God's final word. Doves among the rooftops.
I almost cried because I wanted the cooing of the collared doves to be the gentle meaning of everything.
Sometimes I can't be rational about all of this. The world is so terrible. There has always, always--almost always--been so much death. There is so much scorn, so much loneliness, so much hatred. We are told God gave us a garden, made us fresh out of earth in the light of a young world no evil had touched. The world is old now, and we have invented tortures not fit to be written of. We have invented elaborate reasons why everyone unlike us is lesser than us. We have invented machine upon machine designed brilliantly to destroy.
We are told God gave us a garden. In it was the tree of Life. I believe it. Its seeds are still everywhere, tiny leaves unfurling slowly into the light. I don't know where the seedlings go after that, what happens to them, what blight strikes them down. I only know that I only see them young. But so real.
They are real. The cooing of doves in a window. The sun's light through a perfect young oak leaf, the color green come alive. The light that can rest on a face, come from no lamp or sun--you've seen it, I've seen it, the light in the eyes is real light. In the eyes of a laughing child or an old woman touched with joy. The light lies on the water. The swallows come in spring. Again and again they come, in spite of all our sins. The apple trees forgive us, and bloom.
And I can't take it sometimes, with the wanting, the wanting for these to be the meaning of things, the light that fills your vision, God's final word.
I don't want the world to end in a burst of light. God's final word is God's first word too. I want Eden. I want it painfully, the end of the road, the promise, the day the seed becomes the tree. I want the terrors we have made wiped away. I want the earth we have trodden down and paved over made fresh and new as in the first spring sunrise, and us all there looking at each other wide-eyed in the new light. I want it. I want it sometimes till it hurts.
I have seen the seeds. I have heard the promise. Now is the waiting. I can cry if I choose. But I must go to bed, and get up, and try my best to love my neighbor. Ask God for the strength to treat my neighbor, in the meantime, as if we stood in that new light. As if, if I look again, I'll see the uncreated light resting on his face and shining like a glory in his eyes.
Stay with us, O Lord Jesus Christ
Night will soon fall
Then stay with us, O Lord Jesus Christ,
Light in our darkness.
The grass is still singing
The words I will say
When I walk with You barefoot
In the cool of the day