The Gathering Night

The motorbike climbs the track road,
its headlight piercing the gathering gloom of approaching evening.
Winding its way through the long forgotten ramparts
of this hill fort it finds its way to the top.

The engine is killed.
The rider dismounts his mechanical steed,
and leaves it ticking to itself in the
gathering cool of an autumn evening.
In the silence the movement of the wind can be heard.

Down in the valley below the fingers of shadows lengthen.
The light dims as the sun sets.
Colour gives way to monochrome.
Soon the sun will slip below the horizon
and darkness will gather.
As it has done since time started.

But just because the rider cannot see the sun
it does not mean it has disappeared.
That it is not present.
Nor has darkness succumbed it.
For even as the cold tentacles of night
try to envelope him, he can still see.

The moon rises to take the place of the sun.
It reflects the now unseen sun.
It does not blaze with yellow
but instead it bathes the earth with blue-grey white.

We can still discern our way.
The rider beholds this play.
One that is repeated every day.
And then he senses that he is not alone.
Old building reappear, people, voices, sounds.
Echoes of what took part in that hill fort,
so many centuries past.

For the rider this was long ago.
But he who orchestrates the sun, moon and stars
has seen it all.
Will see it all.
He was there at the beginning.
He will be there at the end – and beyond.
He holds time in his hand.

Yes the sun has temporarily disappeared from sight.
It has been replaced by its reflector.
But the sun will return as it does every dawn.
The earth is not left in complete darkness.
Without illumination.

The rider restarts his mechanical steed.
Its headlight once more banishes the darkness in front of it.
Until the sun returns the rider will have
to rely on the light he takes with him.
And the light that he reflects to the world around him.
The reflection he brings may only be monochrome,
or at best one of muted colours.
But to those around him it is still illumination.
Illumination that banishes the darkness
and shows the way.

Dressed in black many avoid him.
Are suspicious of him.
But for those who take the trouble to speak to him.
To interact with him.
Those will uncover a great reward.
Eyes will see once more.
Monochrome will be replaced with colour.


I am so fortunate to live in a country where the landscape shows man’s intervention going back thousands of years. One feature we have are Iron Age (800 – 100 BC) hill forts. Here a fortified enclosure is made by digging vast rings of ramparts round the top of a hill. Even to this day the ramparts were so deep that they are clearly visible. It was one of these that inspired this poem.

One of the themes here is that all Christians contain the “likeness of Christ” within them and, like it or not, we shine his presence (however dimly). The Bible encourages us to not “hide our lamp under a cover”. Whilst we may not be able to illuminate things with the full colour that Christ can, we can still reflect him and provide illumination to those around us. In a pitch dark room any light, no matter how small, is very welcome.

Also, when we look around at the world around us it can seem that God has departed. That he is somewhere else. Well, like the sun he is still around, he is still working. Just because we cannot necessarily see him blazing in the sky does not mean he is not working.

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