Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Last Day

We finally reach it - our last day. Mankind had reached a nadir while above the sun is shining. On the horizon is darkness and one can only wonder what lies ahead for us all. Will we go on? Was there a better place waiting? Or would the crouching darkness devour our very souls? What will we do?

The last year has been one of radical change, chaos, and confusion. We'd weathered it but there were many wounded and many battle-scarred. Some had died on the field. Even the earth had been assaulted. The villages and towns that still stood were reeling under fiscal problems, energy crises, and joblessness. In many places children cried for food while famine raged in the land. Wars among factions had only increased, their participants splintering skirmishes around the globe.

Terror had become a raging monster fed by a demonic mindset. Children had lain bleeding or dismembered in the streets, a sacrifice to a violent god filled with hatred and minds so twisted by their fables that they believe a lie and are damned themselves.

I scanned the horizon, looking for some sign, some rising star, some glimmer of hope. I saw none. We had obliterated hope along with faith. No one prayed anymore for peace and safety because there was no longer a God to pray to. Or if there was, He must remain hidden in case someone actually grasped His garments in desperation and began to believe in Him. Goodness was servant to selfishness. Mercy lay dying on the alter of intolerance, bigotry, and self-righteousness. No longer was there freedom to speak without fear. No longer could one assert a righteous indignation without fear of reprisal or accusations of religiousness. Death lurked around every corner waiting for a willing participant to utilize his tools.

I sat down on the rotting stump of an ancient oak. It had stood many centuries, growing tall, strong, and full. It's branches had sheltered many from storms, given shade to the weary travelers, and lifted up a multitude of downcast eyes. But long ago they'd begun to hew it down. It had taken a couple of generations to succeed but finally they had chopped it down and burned the carcase. Only the stump remained, a slowly rotting reminder of a time when people actually believed in something good. When ideals, dreams, and hopes were allowed to flourish without dissension.

The sun was lower in the west now, near the time when the darkness would be complete. From the East, it had begun to crawl along the ground, reaching long probing fingers toward us. We stood and watched, making no effort to greet it and none to stop it. I knew that it would overtake us but some part of me continued to search along that dividing line between light and dark, as a thirsty animal searches for a watering hole. Still I saw nothing but approaching darkness. The light behind me dimmed further as the power of that darkness began to overwhelm it.

Then, it came. One moment a fleeting glow suddenly shut out by overwhelming blackness the consistence of tar. My heart pounded so hard I knew others must hear but I couldn't see beyond my outstretched fingertips. I felt tears begin to course down my cheeks and my stomach twisted in knots as I stood in a a night deeper than any well I'd ever seen. I had no measure of how long it lasted because without the sun, time didn't exist.

Just as the last flame of hope in my heart began to gutter like a candle in the wind, I raised my head and hands and strained my eyes to the void. Suddenly, from the farthest reaches of the heavens came a tiny flicker, so faint it would have been undetectable to the casual observer. But I was searching for that flicker and as I watched through blinding tears, it grew and expanded and blazed forth with gathering strength, until it broke through the darkness and glowed brightly -a single star in a vast expanse of nothingness. All around me I heard gasps as first one, and another and then, another star broke through until all the heavens were filled with brilliant starlight, their beams stretching to touch one another.

I looked at the horizon again and saw where the earth and sky formed a line and stars blinked along it the way diamonds do on a necklace. I turned back to my ancient stool for a seat to observe the wonder of it all. At the base of the stump, where gnarled roots snaked away and into the ground, a single green stalk now stood. Tender green leaves had unfurled during the long dark night and now began to reach to the lightening sky.

Then, it came, blazing from the east and banishing the darkness to the depths. A fresh breeze began to blow and dawn came with a chorus of songbirds. We were here.

Now, what will we do?


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