The day I left Christendom, I took a walk beneath the evening sky out into the winter countryside. I'm sorry that I stole away like a thief in the night without saying goodbye to most of you friends, but that is rather typical of me. Yet, I want to write awhile about this memory of a particular evening sky.
The winter landscape is rather stark. White and gray hangs over the land casting the winter gloom upon every field and hill. Creation seems desolate and barren, conquered by Death in service to sharp Winter. I walked along the little road past Padre Pio Hall down toard St. Teresa's. I didn't hurry, but rather took my time as I ambled my way through the road's muddy slush. My mind was caught up in my thoughts, and while these took expression my eyes danced about the horizon searching for something beyond what was there. Yet, no bright colors cheered my sight, nor any sign of life in nature greeted me, and I beheld the woodlands stripped naked on the hillsides quivering before winter's intended fury. This wasteland could give me no comfort and hope, when my spirit yearned for any such sign.
Walking took me to the back yard of St. Teresa's, and for awhile I remained there, sometimes gazing upon the forlorn landscape. The neighboring houses like winter were dirty and grey, and seemed like battered fortresses, small redoubts in the dominion of winter. As I caught in all this, I leaned back against the icy picnic table, and tried to give a voice to my distracted thoughts. Then turning around, I placed my foot on the bench, and thought some more, and yet mused on this death of winter. This winter of cold, mud, sleet, and snow that promised a long time of ruined creation and triumph over the Spring that would never come. Spring would never come . . . yet that cannot be true.
I turned back, and slowly trudged the grimy road back to the college through the muddy slush and over teh dirty potholes. Yet, I looked up to the sky, and in a moment my eyes were fixed to the fire in the sky of the Western Sun spreading its mighty blaze and majesty over the Shenandoah mountains. A great black cloud seemed to pour forth toward and above me, as if it were a harbinger of some great war or calamity that had set the world beyond afire in purgining flames, letting loose the royal colors into the barren sky. All this held and fascinated my eyes, and I delighted in the drama that was unfolding before me. The kingdoms of light and darkness contended with each other, and the royal fire prophesied with mute trumpets the advent end of Winter's reign. It could not be stopped; in time the end would come.
All this scene captured the spirit of my imagination and at once for an instant that lacked the cage of time, I felt transported in a reverie beyond my sorrows and desolate spirit to that majestical land of warm brilliant fires and dancing lights, where I beheld the royal King of Summers surrounded by his court making the preparations to return and deliver his desolate kingdom from the wasteful usurpation of Winter. "Hope shall return", a voice proclaimed, "All the wasteland shall be filled with life once more, and those faithful in the exspectation shall find life more new than before." Then the image faded, and I could only walk forward in silence, contemplating this drama between the earth and sky.
Mindful of these things, I wandered back to the campus. My thoughts were so busy, I remained barely conscious of the path my steps were taking. My attention lay elsewhere than my destination. My feet would take me there. Soon the sun descended beyond the horizon's mighty mountains, and the last rays of its glories withfrew before Night spreading her darkling mantle over the sky. Twilight had mysteriously come and gone, and the drama ended, but still my soul cleaved to the revealed hope of a coming spring in the midst of a hopeless winter.
At last at one spot I stopped my wandering. A few last thoughts found their expression into words, but their understanding lay in the heart. Always the heart understands the meaning that is more than the word. My heart beat fast and hard, and each beating pounded my breast with the great swell of anguish, fear, hope, and love. Then one last tender whisper of my soul I uttered into the night, and I wished my last goodbye to fairest Christendom. Beneath twinkling skies, and a guant yellow moon, I began the journey home.