The Veil is Torn



Darkness enshrouds us later and longer.

I see it when I drive to work early. How slowly the first light breaks in the eastern sky. How dank the world looks with its heavy fog, like frothy milk slathered along the highways and cornfields. How deep the mystery is here, behind the veil. It seems to obscure the very face of God.

And I admit it, this is hard for me.

I yearn for the bright splash of color cardinals’ wings bring. I watch in vain for the beauty of rose and vermillion that brush the sky with the sunrise. Even the chocolate earth, turned over and bald, would be a welcome sight.

I ache for something—something—to please my eye with the subtlety of hue and tint, of tone and texture and vibrance. To clear the uncertainties and answer all the lingering questions. Rage boils up inside against the creamy blackness that seems to consume.

Then I arrive.

The shop is obsequious and welcoming. Everything seems softer at this hour before the bustling world awakes.

My fingers work and my mind slowly winks open one tender eye. The rich aroma of coffee saturates my every pore. I pump out cups of pure caffeine for those who stumble into the warmly lit shop to wake up right. Branded sleeves to keep customers from burning their hands slide over hot paper cups hard today. I fumble and drop a few. I grumble and sigh.

One of those days, I think. One of those days.

And then it catches me by surprise. The light. Beginning as a sliver, hardly discernable from streetlamp’s glow, it gentles me into hope.

A customer is in mid-order, describing the kind of milk he wants and the delicate flavor of his latte, but I know my eyes look far away from all things caffeinated and steamed. Walls of muted, stagnant green erupt into the color of summer fields when the rays hit them. Whispering steam around the espresso machine transforms into billows of cheerful whimsy. Even the cerulean of the bracelet on my arm catches the gleam and winks back a glory of its own.

I am in the light. And the light is in me.

I shake my head and will myself back to the job. I repeat his order back to him, feeling the obtusity of my attention deficit. He corrects me and we gloss it over, smooth like the gilded sky. A grace.

The veil has been torn in so many ways.

Some bright with scarlet alacrity, some smoldering deep, like a brooding sky. Neither place is one without grace, although my groggy eyes argue with me about it.

The mornings that slide by easily and things work as they should are just as much a part of this life as the days of darkness when I drop things and spill. Just as much as the obtusity and the unsolved mysteries and the things that aren’t what they should be.

Isaac Newton taught us, and it has long been accepted, that darkness is nothing more than the passive absence of light. That black is not a color on the spectrum at all, but rather what appears in the want of such. And to this I say, perhaps.

But also perhaps, this is not the only possibility.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one notable thinker who disagreed. He suggested that it could be just as viable of a perspective to say that the colors we see and the light we relish cannot exist without darkness. Perhaps instead of holding the two in polarity as opposites, it is their interchange that impacts us most.

That darkness, in fact, is a necessary and active ingredient in the light and color we so desperately cherish.

For too long, I have hated the one and loved the other.
And this is the time of year when it shows.

Because the darkness begins to creep in around the edges of the day and take more ground. Sometimes I can breathe the holy “yes” to whatever way life wants to come to me, accepting the peace that is darkness as much as the hope that is light.

But sometimes I can’t.

Sometimes I still grumble and pout and bang on the door that’s closing rather than turn to the window that’s still open.

But could it be, friends, that this too is a grace? That even in the banging and the whining and the rage, there is a simplicity of hope making a path through the wilderness? We must have wilderness—yes?—for hope to spring anew. Because hope that is seen is no hope at all. And a path is only a relief when every other footfall finds the options rustic and strenuous.

For what would light be without dark? Would we know the glories of day without the quiet calm of night? And how would we notice the garish wings on our cardinal friend if it were not for the browns and blacks, the dry and the dying, all around him?

Back at the coffee shop, words form in my heart before they make it to my lips. I will thank this patient customer for his understanding. I will place the desired drink in his hand and wish him a good day. We will smile and speak our farewells as he steps through the dark doorway, into a street now bathed in morning light. This, too, a manifestation of grace.

A grace that consumes.

Because indeed, the veil is torn in so many ways.


Image credit: Bill Israel

Kelli Woodford
I live in the midwest, surrounded by cornfields and love, with my husband and seven blue-eyed children. We laugh, we play, we fight, we mend; but we don’t do anything that even slightly resembles quiet. Unless it’s listening to our lives, which has proved to be the biggest challenge of them all.
Kelli Woodford
Kelli Woodford

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