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Blog

The Gates of Dawn

Tom Sturch

St “But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.”   ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

You know the feeling. You've just finished a big show, cleaned up the messes, returned the equipment, the wrap party is over, and now what? For weeks life had singular purpose. For the last several days you've been riding that wave. What exhilaration! And as soon as the morning after, you're on the shore looking out at the horizon on a dead calm.

In the seventh chapter of Wind in the Willows, Rat and Mole set off down the river on an adventure to save their friend, Portly. Along the way they hear and follow a haunting song with great anticipation. As they enter Wild Wood they are confronted with a mystical appearance of Pan playing the song against a rising sun and are overcome with a desire to worship. When they lift their heads, Portly is sitting there, no worse for the wear. But, they can't remember what happened and they can't recall the song. It seems an oddly melancholy moment.

The title of the chapter is “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”and youth group called their recent musical based on it “The Gates of Dawn." In just seventy days we wrote the script and songs, designed and constructed the set, learned our parts, and did two shows. At church some days later I noticed bits of the froth like patches of suds on the faces of the kids. No one mentioned it. It was as if we'd forgotten, but not.

In two weeks from this writing the Church will celebrate Pentecost. We'll have ridden the ebb of Lent through the highs of Eastertide for nearly one hundred days. And in a rain of fiery tongues we'll celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit in power. The following week will be Trinity Sunday and the Sunday after that begins the long stretch of calm seas called Ordinary Time. It will dawn as a kind of inevitable denouement that allows us to gather the threads of our livesin my case, the lawn, some work, the rest that I'd foregoneand let memory return in time with the understanding that abides the common, the quiet, and the quotidian.