It is a dark day here. I sit with my head in my hands, the cold rough stone under me, the loose leaves clattering and swirling in the wind as it tosses through the bare temple. This temple is Apollo’s, but the sky is gray, the rain is cold, and…
Wraiths walk where there was sunshine.
I stand up and look around my inner landscape. From the Abyss of Fear the evil spirits have come, through the forest, along the myriad branching and merging paths, and at last out on the green grass where the sunlight played. They are everywhere; they are legion. Down by the beach, where there was music and dancing, now there is only the sound of the eternal gray sea, and skeletal figures leave horrible footprints in the sand. Up in the hills, where the wood-spirits played, the trees crouch and twist, and dark things haunt them. Below, on the prairie, the herds of buffalo are gone, replaced by piles of yellowing bones. The Fairie Pool by the enchanted forest is muddied and freezing up; and something tentacled and noisome is in its depths.
I walk along the crest of the hill. The wind is icy and the raindrops huge and hard. The wraiths are all around me, trying to scare me and intimidate me. I push them aside — I have enough strength to keep them away from me. But I cannot drive them all out. My inner landscape has been invaded in force; I am overwhelmed.
Years ago, when I was atheist, I worked at a job where my boss was extremely critical, and in many ways abusive. I was, and am, sensitive to such things, and over time it became very, very difficult to force myself to go to work. I had a young family and a pregnant wife, and the economy was bad, and I felt I had no choice but to tough it out; but day by day it became worse and worse.
At last one day I simply could not force myself on. I was in the shower, getting ready for work, and the fear and apprehension overcame me. I stood there and cried; I was hopeless and helpless.
Then a strange idea came to me: what about God? I’d never been Christian, and I’d never entrusted my fate to a higher power before, but at this point I was at the end of my rope and I felt I had nothing to lose. I forced myself to believe — setting aside all my atheistic and scientific skepticism — forced myself through the pure power of desperation — and right there I prayed with all my might, prayed that He would protect me from the pain and humiliation and abuse, and help me have the strength to go on.
For the first time in my life, my prayer was answered. The fear and apprehension fell away, leaving only the merest trace, like an echo of itself. All of my worry vanished; I actually felt calm, and I could feel my muscles relaxing. I was amazed, and as for gratitude? — thankful doesn’t begin to describe it. I went in to work, and I was indeed criticized and abused — but it all just rolled off me.
The strength of that prayer got me through the next three years of that job. I was never completely atheist again.
Here He Comes
Standing on the cold haunted hilltop, I remember this lesson. I fall on my knees and lift my arms up to the sky. Apollo, where are you?
And there he is —
— One shaft of light right through the gray clouds, the sun is there, as it is always there, waiting for my call. It is blinding, it is beautiful, it is golden like liquid warmth, golden like a thousand prides of lions, golden like joy; and He reaches out his long hand, the long hand of Lugh, and touches my face. The darkness and rain and fear and wraiths are gone; and Apollo’s light washes clean the grass, the trees, the sands and waters. The breeze laughs and plays with my hair.
Do not forget to invite joy into your life.
May the gratitude of the season wrap you in its cloak of love, and may you always walk in the light.