The wind cuts a stinging cold but I only know because I see the moms and dads bundle their children up as they scurry from house to house. The laughter and the voices sound like echoes against a backdrop of scrunching leaves, barking dogs, and opening and shutting of doors. I know this night well. This is the night when the darkness most shrouds the light. It is the eve of all hallows and there is scarcely a soul about even thinking about the outer world.
Children dressed as wizards and witches are only concerned with amassing their haul of treats while parents are torn between the excitement in the child’s eyes and the rush to get this operation over so they can get out of the cold.
They scurry past me as if I don’t even exist. The loneliness overwhelms me. They don’t even look at me. There isn’t so much as a hello as I retrace my steps among these shadows, trying to get back home. The children never knew me but the adults do…well…at least they did. That was long ago before they had kids, soccer games, PTA meetings, and careers. They do not even know they are slaves. They work 60 hours a week to pay for the 10 hours a week they give to everyone else- the team, the band, the dance classes.
They go to therapy sometimes, unable to grasp that they have created their own whirlwinds. I still can’t get used to a house on that hill. That was my hill. We rolled down in the fall, crashing into leaves, and rode down it on our bikes. In the winter, we raced down it in toboggans and sleds. We never thought of anything else. None of them recognize me. Even the hill mocks me with derisive silence.
The sun has long since hid behind the mountain and what remains of it’s light casts only fading shadows. A man burning leaves puts just enough glow on the sidewalk that I can trace my way. Another gaggle of rushing children and chasing parents approaches and passes.
In days of old, the saints trod solemnly on this night. Transfixed in prayer, they thought of the holy ones that had gone before. They pondered the price they paid, the isolation they felt, the temptations to despair that they surely endured. I was foolish in my past days. I gave no audience to thoughts such as these. I only thought about the sun of the day and the laughter of the night. Sun and laughter, laughter and sun, lavishly indulged with the company of friends. They have all abandoned me now and I have no company down this lonely road. A young lad just bashed right into me and kept bolting forward as if nothing had occurred.
I have no defense before you, Mighty one. You give, You take away and I, a mere worm, must accept your sentence and walk on. How I wish I could hear words of comfort from You but in your justice, You remain silent because in isolation shall I reach you. It is with my silence towards You that I walked so many of my former days, trying to stay my own conscience so I could follow my own will. I acted like You don’t even matter. Now, nothing matters and no one matters but You. Yet, you hold me here in this dark and misty place where many see You dimly while others don’t even look for you.
I remember how the ones I loved gave me warmth of spirit. I thought our love would last forever. I thought we could overcome anything together. I walked these very streets with them. Now I walk them alone. They have almost all moved on. They have new lives. They never call on me and I no longer even know how to call on them. Even those who live close by do not even give me thought.
Why am I telling you this? It’s not as if you are listening. I’m walking down the sidewalk talking to myself. Retracing thousands of steps through season after season. In the burning sun of summer and the biting wind, rain, and snow of winter. It never changes. The warmth of your fireplace doesn’t bring any warmth to your heart. You leave me here to myself, forsaken. I wonder if anyone believes in angels anymore. You believe in devils but only as playmates. The last shall be first and the first shall be last, said He. He who exalts himself shall be humbled, said He again. Why didn’t I listen? Now, humiliation is my portion, and regret and loneliness are my constant companions. I can do nothing to free myself. I can do nothing to help myself. I can only wait and hope that you will even give me a thought, a memory, a prayer on my behalf. I did not intend to come to this place. I did not plan on it.
You remember how things were, don’t you?
You remember the trips we went on? The walks in the park?
Now, do I even enter your thoughts that you might help me by a prayer or do you not even know or care about my pain?
It’s now after midnight. This is the greatest pain of all. I know how you have lost your faith. You don’t even hear them - the angels that surround us, the cloud of witnesses that envelop us. You thought me crazy when I mentioned them. Even now, you think nothing of them, that they might help save you and deliver me. I know they are here. I don’t care what you say. Mock me if you will, ignore me just the same. Another day of All Saints dawns forgotten by so many but not by me.
One day, I will join you. One day, my lonely journey will end and God will deliver me from this place of tears. I didn’t mean for things to go the way they did but that doesn’t mean you should have just forgotten about me. You once loved me and I love you still. You can’t hear me. You act like I don’t even exist. You stopped believing. You even stopped pretending to believe.
They put me in the cold ground and you walked away.