Let Evening Come…

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Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Sarah had been working, doing, being busy. Calling friends, checking on her brother. Talking to the doctor. Checking on her brother. Cleaning the house that was already spotless. Checking on her brother.

He was dying. Dying after a very long illness. And here she was, back in the family home, filled with more memories than space, and filling her hours and minutes with the things we all fill our hours and minutes with to avoid facing that which we know is coming, but realizing what we know is actually so unknown we will do almost anything to avoid it.

She sat at the family table, long, scratched, worn in places from years of elbows and forks and conversations and meals. The phone rang, and her friend Jane asked on the other end, “How are you doing?”

Sarah answered the way many of us answer when we don’t want to say the truth. And her friend replied, in deep love, “Let evening come.”

Matthew, Peter, James, John…have been working, doing, being busy. They have been teaching, preaching, healing, questioning, following for months and years. They gathered with Jesus of Nazareth on this night that would be different from all other nights.

The remnants of the meal rested on the table before them all, the disciples. Maybe 12, maybe 20, maybe more. Women and men. Some children. Most faces were familiar, but a few new ones, perhaps friends of friends. Jesus never turned away someone who wanted to join in.

They gathered to listen – again – to Jesus. The post-meal hey, are you going to eat that last bit of cheese; did you see the crowd a few days ago and hear them cheering; this Jesus movement is really going somewhere conversation pass over each other. Judas and Peter share an inside joke, and Judas notices the light is beginning to fade.

Let evening come.

We gather. We have been working, doing, being busy. Life is busy. We have things to do, people to see, life to live. But on this night, we sit down at the dinner party with inside jokes and laughter and hellos to hear our friend, our Lord and Savior, fill this space with something profound, something that shifts us from our narrative. And while we know what is coming, what will happen after the moment and the meal. Maybe this time, we wonder, it won’t be so hard, so raw, so hurtful. Maybe this time ‘My God My God why have you forsaken me’ won’t be spoken from him. Maybe this time…

And yet, let evening come.

Like Peter, James, John, Sarah, and all of us when we stand at the edge of what is and where we are and peer into that which is hazy and unknown, we want to stop it all, stay where we are, refuse to go forward, refuse to move.

Jesus, however, being Jesus, does move. He moves from the table. He rises and kneels, washes our feet, a symbol of that love. No one is beneath you, no act of love is menial, he shows us. Do the work that needs to be done. Love those who need to be loved, including yourself. Be willing to seek love out of comfortable spaces and place. Be willing to move beyond. Be willing to trust. Peter makes a fuss. He always does. Judas looks uncomfortable. But then, so do all of us. Slaves touch dirty feet. Not Jesus. Not us.

He moves to take the bread and the wine and shares with us. Nourish yourselves on love, and feed others with the same love. Maybe, even, he sees us looking at the ones around the table we don’t like. That Judas has always been a bit…you know, we say to ourselves, moving away from love.

Jesus gives the wine to Judas, then offers the cup to us. “Drink,” his says, “In love.”

The laugher has died down a bit. Peter is going on and on…again…about how much he loves Jesus. Judas is checking his phone, like he has somewhere to be. Sarah is looking in on her brother again. Did you know he was dying? someone whispers. We are wondering if we sent that email or returned that phone call or finished whatever remains unfinished in our days and lives.

“What did Jesus mean ‘he is only with us a little longer’? Is he going somewhere? Maybe back to Bethlehem?” Thomas asks.

We shrug our shoulders. We all have our thoughts. The temple priests have been agitated lately, not so friendly to Jesus. No one likes to be called a hypocrite – especially when it’s the truth. We’ve heard talk that the Roman authorities don’t care for Jesus, either. Who would have thought that preaching love would make so many people angry.

James and John said they heard talk about an insurrection, and that the church leaders wanted Jesus silenced. Dead, even. After all, John said, all this welcome of the outcast gave people ideas, ideas they have worth and dignity, that their lives matter. Matthew and Philip nod. We nod. If only he were just a bit…nicer, not so…but our comment is interrupted as Sarah returns.

She sits down at the table again.

The disciples sat down at the table again.

We sat down at the table again.

“Is it really that bad? Could he really be killed?” someone asks. No one speaks, and the silence says what we all know is true.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way. He’s too young, too vibrant, too much life ahead of him. What if we don’t remember everything he’s told us. That whole bit about the bread and wine…what are we supposed to remember again?

“Love, he said something about love,” someone remarks.

“Love,” we repeat.

“Love isn’t supposed to feel this scary, is it?” Mary asks.

Jesus gets up and walks to the door. He opens it and walks outside. Evening is coming. We all see it. We all feel it.

Mary follows to the door. She pauses and reaches to touch his shoulder, maybe to hold him back, maybe to give him the faith to move forward.

Let evening come.

“What now?’ Matthew asks, to no one and to everyone.

Jesus looks to us, the shadows of the evening falling around him. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love.”

“Love,” he repeats once more.

Then he turns and walks out the door.

We follow, fearful, loving, lost, faithful in bits, and confused in parts. Our feet washed, our souls filled. We move into the unknown. We follow into what will come next.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us   
comfortless, so let evening come.

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