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Parting Glances: A night wise as snow

By |2016-04-12T09:00:00-04:00April 12th, 2016|Uncategorized|

That silent night the sound of jackboots grew loud in the streets. The hosannas grew bold. Onward like soldiers marching as to war they came, letting no one bar their trampling way.
“We march in the name of charity,” they sang. But their hymn was harsh, too militant of beat, too heavy of brass and snaring drum to win our allegiance or gain our heartfelt salutation. We rebelled at their audacity.
And soon our city was circled like Joshua’s fabled wall. We feared for lives, homes, and gardens where rainbow flowers bloomed each spring. We feared our dreams would fall apart with alien trumpet blast.
Other cities fell that year, taken siege one by one by one — their citizens made to bow in homage, made to worship false images; tithe custom, cash, with blind obedience.
For days we heard rumors of casting stones. (“A lie,” they said.) We heard chants — Change! Change! (“For goodness sake,” they urged.) We noted the marking of souls by chapter and verse: I accept! I kneel! I crown! (“Our truth is indelible,” they three times crowed. “It scorches like fires of hell. It stains like redeeming blood.”)
For safety we fled to the woods, worried we might be pursued by their hounds of heaven, unleashed to snap, snarl and tear any — and all — who could not, would not, dare not, believe. True believe.
Step! Step! Step! the jackboots echoed. Hosanna! Heil! Hosanna! the cries rang out. The hour grew late. The indifferent moon shone cold. The idle clouds drifted far away. Few stars dared to shine for us.
“Are we next?” we wondered, pausing to embrace, to lock wearied arms and press ahead. “Let our kinship sustain us ’til the dawn,” we said.
And so, that once-silent night the snow fell gentle, unsullied. It covered all with tiny gems of benediction. (Is there anything wiser than the falling snow? we asked.) Yet still we heard the warlike din, and moved among the trees where sentinel shadows guarded our late-night watch.
Each brought a candle to light the way. His, red. Hers, blue. A youth’s, pale lavender. A transgendered heart, fairest green. A black, richest ebony. Amid that sheltered space our faces glowed. We shared warmth. We shared light. We garnered hope. Breathed far, far cleaner air.
Hidden in the heart of natural things we affirmed who we are — who we have always been — who we must remain — come what may — whate’er the cost — whate’er betide the struggle or strategy. Having so pledged among ourselves, it seemed the woods in turn gave haloed radiance. And spectral voices, too.
“Remember us,” we heard the unnamed spirits call. “We paid the price for candor long, long years ago. Our honest courage paved the way for you and yours. Draw now upon our strength. Your struggle’s ours.”
“Hear us too,” cried others circling ’round with sadder shape. “Our countless lives give honor. We yielded youth, talent, hope to rampant death, disease, dementia. Our suffering, our terror — though painful to recall — must not be banished from memory. Our loss, atone.”
“And we, too, are here: victims of hate, cunning, murder, foulest play. We were despised, rejected of men. They mocked and spat upon our gifts, our joy, our differences, our right to love.Yield not. Be strong!”
Then whispered a healing wind: “Your time will come. Be resolute.” And softly said the ever-gentle snow: “Be whole. My peace I give. This night I blanket all. Be free.”

About the Author:

Charles Alexander