The lake soon turned into a wide, fiery river, pouring out of the west, spreading itself out across the whole valley before us. I've never seen a sunset look quite this way. Next, the river broadened and became a vast lake, something on the order of Lake Superior, wide enough for sailing vessels, with cloud islands and land formations skirting the edges. From fire, it eventually changed to pale gold, and then to ice. Crisscrossing contrails looked like dogsled tracks--evidence of some pole expedition, trailing off into the unknown. Then the ice turned violet. This steady, shifting glow filled my imagination for more than an hour. I don't even remember now all the places it took me.
But I thought about a conversation I had with my friend, Linda, last week. I went to her house after work for coffee and conversation, something we do together, on average, once a week. Linda and I met last year through a class on spirituality, the only two self-professed contemplatives in a group of about thirty. She dropped out because that's too many people for her at once. Luckily for me, she hung around long enough to invite me over to walk her labyrinth!
So, last week, when I showed up at her house, I sat for a minute in the car and consciously decided I didn't want to talk about ME that afternoon. I wanted to be open, and find out what was on Linda's mind. I wanted our time together to be whatever it would be. No agenda.
We spoke at length about lots of things--our feelings about the Catholic church, and the role of women. The Bible study we're part of every week, and the ways we see the women growing spiritually. We talked about awakening, and what that means, and how it happens.
Then we went deeper--and spoke of our childhood experiences. Linda got up and raised the blinds. The sun was beginning to set, deep red, in the west. We didn't watch it, exactly. But we were aware of it. And we agreed that November sunsets are the best.
I got up to leave, and, as darkness descended, we talked more--a full thirty minutes--about what it's like as a child to know you don't fit into your family. We both realized it at an early age. And each of us had discovered that the only remedy is to eventually discover the joy of your own soul--to realize fully that you are deeply loved by the One Who created you, and that you are unique and precious, a Child of God. And that it helps greatly if someone else recognizes and champions you along the way.
It was dark when I got in my car. And colder than when I arrived. But the conversation stayed with me, resonating deeply, grounding me, warming me, and giving me peace.