The house is cold, dark, and quiet as I awaken. The fire in the rusty metal woodstove died down hours ago along with the evening’s after dinner chatter. Reaching from under the down comforter I pull back the heavy window curtain to reveal a bright crescent moon and an infinite field of stars. The Spirit is calling me to come away, alone into the night, just as he did my Lord so many times.
Donning the wool beanie my daughter knit for me and a puffy jacket for warmth I slip downstairs into the night. In the yard a billion points of light pierce the veil of darkness over this Himalayan Buddhist kingdom as the nearby water-powered prayerwheel, persistent but futile, chimes with each revolution.
Holding the clapper in the bell hanging over the gate so I don’t awaken the dogs I slip out into the village. Moving by moonlight clockwise around the chorten and down the rough worn steps onto the cobblestone path. Faint images of prayer flags fluttering in the cold mountain winds everywhere I turn. Whitewater sounds call me down the trail and out onto the ancient, heavy timber footbridge. Thunderous snowmelt from the mountain above drowns out the incessant voices in my head leaving the peaceful solitude for which I thirst.
I ponder the symbolism of the bridge as a portal from one world to the next, a threshold from one reality to another. Pausing in the middle as if halfway between worlds I lift my eyes in prayer to the Creator of heaven and earth, praising God for each star, for each person sleeping in the darkened homes around me, for the opportunity to be a small light here in their dark world, for God’s call on my life to be a bridge between this pervasive darkness and the light of God’s love for each of us. Quietly, thankfully, prayerfully I lay the elements out on the bridge railing altar and celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the midst of this engulfing darkness.
I may well be the first person to worship the true and living God in this remote valley, the first to celebrate communion in this place. Psalms 69:30-31 tells us that God desires our praise and thanksgiving more than our offerings. Jesus taught Martha and Mary that God longs for our presence to him much more than our works for him. The unum necessarium, the one thing necessary is for us to sit at Jesus’ feet listening to what he says.
It’s incomprehensible how my being here can possibly make a difference. How my prayers and my praise bring light into darkness. But I rest in personal, experiential knowledge that God works in mysterious, ineffable ways. He made his mystery known to me through the prayers of others. I trust that he has called me here to pray his peace into these people and that somehow he will open their hearts and minds to receive his Word which we have shared.