IN THE DARK AND SILENT NIGHT, ALL IS CALM
In the dark and silent night, all indeed is calm.
We have passed safely through the Darkest Night
Signs of a New Dawn, even midst the bleak and trying times
Begin to unfold in mysterious ways
In the labors to keep Downton Abbey alive as the aristocracy must learn to adapt if it is to survive, we see Matthew, Tom Bronson and his Lordship, still head of the Crawley estate, forging a coming together after their mistrust came so close to dividing them.
Matthew knows the legal, financial needs, Tom has the Irish farmer knowledge of the common folks, and his Lordship, father of Mary and her sisters, now feels he is not being disregarded, but included in vital ways to preserving Downton as it faces a very different future. Tom agrees to join the House cricket team, and Matthew coaches him on this game he knew nothing about. Everyone needs to rally, and games are a time-honored way we bond even in difficult times.
After his experience in prison, falsely accused of murder, Bates has a new empathy for Thomas, facing shame and dim prospects of new employment if Carson sends him off without a letter of reference. For all his mistakes, Thomas is not evil, but a gay man in a day when it was criminal to be so; with Bates speaking to his Lordship, Thomas has a second chance by playing on the house cricket team, and finding a new position downstairs as a footman. The downstairs women help soften Carlson’s heart, and forgiveness and good will begin to brighten prospects for the emerging alliances, both upstairs and downstairs; they have a need to work for the common good.
With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world for a brief time comes together to honor and respect this incredible man who, even when imprisoned, envisioned a South Africa not just free of the curses of apartheid. He began to create a homeland where men and women of all races could live side by side, free at last in ways never thought possible before he began the journey of reconciliation, forgiveness, bringing joy and celebration to a land known for its intolerance and harsh indifference to the humanity of its black and poor people. He was a leader both humble and willing to suffer personally to see his dream come true. President Obama spoke of leaning from Mandela that it does matter if we strive to be the best we are capable of becoming, not settling for an easier life if we have talents that may help change the course of our country’s destiny. Light is returning, and the struggles for justice and equality are making a new world order possible.
So as we slumber, let us give thanks we are part of this unfolding, this enormous time of transition if the planet is to survive. Men and women, all colors, rich and poor beginning to envision a future that embraces and includes us all. “Peace, peace, peace, peace, wars have been, and wars must cease. We must learn to live together. Peace, peace, peace”—the words of our beloved Dave Marston in a gathering of poets and musicians in the fall before he died. May we learn to grieve, to laugh, to love and honor one another and be part of the great healing with our circles of reconciliation and deep listening to one another. May the Chalice indeed replace the Blade in the years to come.
Shalom, my sisters and my brothers. The old ways are dying, and new blessings lay dormant, waiting to receive the Light. May the New Year indeed be a much happier, healthier one, where we dare to address real issues and forge a more compassionate way of living, working, and being together.Carol Browning in the predawn hours of December 23, 2013