Spirituality for Today – March 2008 – Volume 12, Issue 8

The Minstrel of the Dawn

By Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

Photo of a road going into the distance against a blue skyA pair of sleepy ears surrounded the closing strains of an old Gordon Lightfoot song. The talk show hosts and the disc jockeys counteracted the monotony of the passing miles. Indeed, a car radio is a faithful companion in the new moon dark of an all night drive. Softly and subtly, the overture of dawn began. As the black of night slowly surrendered to a muted blue, the early light expanded the narrow vision of the road into an ever widening and recognizable landscape. As if one had entered a new world, a new existence, a feeling of accomplishment and peace warms one's soul. The brightening sky lengthened one's perception of all that lay ahead; a clarity that conferred a renewed sense of competence and confidence for the unfolding journey.

Throughout salvation history, the contrast between light and dark has been a characteristic feature of the spiritual journey of the soul. The prophet Isaiah wrote of one to come who would serve as a "light to the nations." This divine illumination allows one to see and to understand the proper direction to follow. God's word sharpens the focus on remaining upon the smooth surface and avoiding the broken ground along the path of living each day. Many are the forms of darkness one may encounter. Circumstances may cause one to step into a murky atmosphere of heart and soul. Life can place loathsome burdens on one's shoulders. The terrible weight can bend one's gaze downward, blocking one's peripheral vision, and leaving the spirit a view only of the mud below. Tragedies, concerns, and just the wearing effects of daily tasks can blind one to the horizon dearly sought in faith.

Once, dawn's cool light shown upon the face of a newborn babe who was destined to change the world. His very name spoke of the salvation of God. A world of barbarous cruelty and wickedness sought to consume him. An ever-present divine and human love would sustain him in his mission. Even after soaking the ground with his sacred blood, those whose eyes were glazed with hatred would witness his mercy and love. For them and for all, there would be another dawn. Jesus Christ, believed to be defeated, rose in victory. The brilliance of his divinity would spread its light and warmth to a destitute world.

The engine is purring and the course is set. Each person must put the process of moving through the day into motion. Choices present themselves and one must determine the consequence of each. Temptations let loose the ancient struggle between the spirit and the flesh. In its variable and volatile manner, experiences of mortality may encourage disbelief; making life nothing more than the slow unfolding of death. Whatever road one travels leads to nowhere. In faith, however, there is nothing the world can do that God cannot fix. The harsh realities along the way shrink before the power of the Spirit. One's view must expand to encompass this truth or one will be left with bitterness and despair. The destination is reached through the flesh to the Spirit, through death to eternal life. Only by such faith and hope can one entrust their departed loved ones to the One who is love and life.

To live a Christian is to live enlightened by Christ. In that fact, the choices, opportunities, temptations, and possibilities of daily life are subject to the Christian motive. The poignant title of the Country & Western song, Jesus Take the Wheel expresses the need of every believer to undertake the work of each new day, first having invited Jesus to travel along side. The exercise of one's freedoms produces the most abundant fruit with God's helping hand. At day's end, one feels true fulfillment only by having acted under the motivation and inspiration of faith.

We are all bound to the throne of the Supreme Being by a flexible chain which restrains without enslaving us. The most wonderful aspect of the universal scheme of things is the action of free beings under divine guidance.

- Joseph de Maistre

At this time, one's gaze is fixed on the coming light. From an unsatisfied yearning in the core of the soul and a persistent hope in the depth of the heart, one is impelled to look upward and to see and to hear, and to believe. A remedy for every mortal care and the reward for all virtuous deeds have been made manifest. The Minstrel of the Easter dawn sings his hymn of saving grace. He beckons all to listen and to follow.