It’s the Moments

Autumn is a time for taking stock.

As I wrote at this time last year, the call of autumn is the urgent plea: “What do you have?  What do you need?”

What will get you through the winter?

In general, I write my articles with some sense of flow, through-line and logical progression. 

But these things may not take me where my autumnal inventory demands.

For ideas, arguments and even logical thought itself may not completely address the needs of the season.

They may be, at bottom, a shallow way of plumbing the depths.

Cold reason may not warm my core.

Particularly in these times of bitter division, when it is too easy to believe that our entire being revolves around our positions on principles.

And so I leave off the boxed frames of logical thought, and spend a moment in reverie, pondering moments that carry a bit of love.

For the moments are the things that we remember.

Moments where love supercedes reason or common sense or tradition or self-preservation.

They are our touchstones, these moments, our places of resort in times of inventory, our places of resort in times of trial.

Encounters, images…

Inchoate, perhaps; barely articulated in terms of their meaning; but known to us, known by us.

These moments need none of the everlasting defense of ideas, proclamation of principle, and endless marshalling of evidence that are required to prove the importance of something to others.

For they are undoubtedly important to us.

So let both the defense and the prosecution rest.

They have naught to do with our personal touchstones.

I present you with some of my own.


The out-of-the-box, non-traditional preaching of Bill Edelen, who was my pastor for some years in elementary and middle-school, who is still going strong, and whose website is listed on the links page…

The gentle tones of Garrison Keillor…

The infinite promise of Glenda in The Wizard of Oz, who knew that the way home was not gained through a quest for glory or esoteric knowledge, but was given as a gift that you always knew you had received, a gift that was as plain as the nose on your face, or the shoes on your feet…

Meg, in A Wrinkle In Time, near death from her encounter with pure hatred, stumbling into the open arms of compassionate love…

John Howard Griffin, desperately seeking peace and relief from chronic night terrors in the midst of his impersonation of an African-American man in the deep South of the nineteen-fifties, stumbling into the open arms of a Benedictine monastery…

All of Virginia Woolf, and her early novel Night and Day should by no means be ignored…

Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours

Mary Magdalene in The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, particularly her response to the angry comments of Peter; also, the upbraiding of Peter by Andrew, which follows…

The angels in The Laramie Project, who effectively sealed off a spectacle of hatred while looking with compassion on the wounded mother of a murderer…

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

All of the writings of Sue Monk Kidd, particularly The Secret Life of Bees

Debussy’s "Claire de Lune"…

Delius’s Florida Suite

The entire premise of Courage Under Fire

Matthew Broderick in Glory

Donald Pleasance as the Warden in The Barchester Chronicles, a mini-series conflation of Anthony Trollope’s The Warden and Barchester Towers

Robin Williams in What Dreams May Come

Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking

Reinhold Messner, record-setting and long-lived mountaineer, on death in the mountains: “What we find up there we show, not in how we lash ourselves after summits, but in how much life we retrieve from the abyss of our egos and rescue into the valley below.”…

Louis Armstrong, singing in his inimitable voice:  “I see skies of blue, and clouds of white, bright blessed day, dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world… “


We all have our own moments, whether they are things that only we understand or things that are available for all.

Whether you bring them to the common table or keep them in reserve for your own personal reflection, hold them dear in this season.

For they, and all of their imperfect reflections of the Sacred, will help us all, whether we share them or not.

For those moments can move us to love, a love that is needed as we all confront the daily manifestations of lovelessness in the world.

They are fire and heat for winter.

They are fire and heat against the dying of the light.


And yet one more, new to this season, this year…


Dark, sacred night.

The hillside was growing dark, that hillside where we have gathered as a nation, periodically, for nearly fifty years to mourn the passing of many from this family.

Down below, across the river, the capitol city was lit for Saturday night: not so, here: the light failed; sunset amid advancing storm clouds.

Long silences, unfamiliar to us nowadays.

Taps; then silence; then full dark.

Lightning flickered in the storm clouds to the northwest; flickered again, building.

In the background, a journalist softly incanted the words of Dylan Thomas:

“Do not go gentle into that good night, but rage, rage against the dying of the light.”


I post new articles twice-monthly in “Author’s Corner”.

If you live in or near the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and you would be interested in meeting with others for discussion and/or prayer, please contact me at  All are welcome, regardless of identity or personal choices.  Please understand that I do not have the resources to guarantee that I will be able to read or respond to all other correspondence.

Toward Dawn is a privately-funded outreach, and it neither solicits nor accepts contributions.

Rob Wright holds advanced degrees in education and performing arts, and he has been a professional teacher for over seventeen years.  In his home denomination, he has served as a lay minister in liturgical, educational and ecumenical activities.  He lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with his spouse of twenty years and their daughter.