Tonight, the moon is merely a sliver resting against a midnight sky, an arc of gold slicing through the unadorned dark. There is a stillness about the world at Daylight Savings Time, and darkness somehow needs light and contrast to define it. In the same way, light and joy are what illuminate the moments that stand apart from the darkness we meet, from the grief and the suffering. Welcoming darkness means acknowledging light and trusting that “more” exists. The surprise is that “more” is not outside us; it exists within us. “More” becomes visible in what we do, what we say, how we choose to live. And the Gospel of the day highlights that.
The story of the widow is highlighted twice: the Old Testament reading with the prophet Elijah and then the Gospel, with the widow who gives from what seems to be her need. The echo is powerful: in both cases, there is simplicity, a seeming lack of wealth. In both cases, there is faith motivating, inspiring action. In both cases, there is honesty, a sincerity in what is done. And respect is there: respect for self, for the efficacy of the choice, and for other, for community. In the first case, it is for the prophet; in the second, it is for the tradition, the chance to participate in something greater than self. In both, there is a certainty that who they were and what they were able to do was not limited by status or wealth. In both, the women were not defined by others; instead, they defined who they were by their actions. And in both cases, there was the gentle, low-key, background nature of who they were. Neither sought power or recognition; there was instead that confidence that the path was theirs for the taking. Each one made a choice, a simple choice. And each one’s action made a difference. Each found “more” within themselves.
The stories speak to the experiences we have today. They invite us to consider our prejudices, our stereotypes, our understanding of what wealth means. These two stories invite us to consider the field of midnight in our lives; the actions described invite us to consider that sliver of light, the arc of gold, that stands out from what is conventional. Most importantly, each of us has the chance to make a choice. It might not be the same scenario, but the moments of choice arrive over and over. What we do with them defines who we are and what we are about…for ourselves and for others. Reflecting on those choices matters. Doing the right thing matters. In simplicity. In kindness. And noticing those gifts in others matters, too. After all, we learn from one another as much as we learn from the stories of Scripture. Every step of the way, we deal with challenges. And every step of the way, help is available to us. Knowing that means that each of us possesses a strength, a power, that we may not have even suspected. “More” exists within us. Knowing gives us the strength to live every choice with quiet confidence and alive to the deeper truths, the things that really matter.