With the oncoming autumn, Gideon brews a large pot of coffee for his parishioners, which he keeps refreshed as he talks. He has begun rotating through the congregation, asking them each in turn to bring some small food. Today, there is cinnamon bread.
Good Morning! Getting a bit cold, isn’t it? Here in the next few weeks, we’ll probably move indoors to a tent and we’ll just come outside for the dawn and the hymn. The great part about fall and winter? We do get to sleep later. I have, as always, a few announcements. First of all, congratulations on their new home to Iosif and Eva. I feel certain that they’re both happy to have four walls and a fireplace, especially with Eva coming due right along with winter. Sarenrae bless you both. Second, the local kobold tribe has agreed to come and do some trading with us for items in the markets. I ask of you, both personally and in the name of our goddess who teaches that no one is beyond redemption, to treat them as you would any other new neighbor. That they are different is no excuse for bad behavior – though that goes for them as well. I feel confident their silver will spend just as well as anyone else’s. If you have any questions or concerns, I will be only too happy to discuss it with you after the morning hymn.
I’m certain that, by now, you’ve all heard about my new job. My uncle’s response in times like this would be, “Not bad for a Varisian kid from Magnimar.” For me, I’ve just really been asked to keep doing what I’ve been doing, though I might be able to score better coffee. I am blessed that my vocation is also my calling and I thank Sarenrae every day for the opportunity to come and meet with you in fellowship…even when that comes with a bit of frost.
Today, I want to talk to you about loss and responsibility.
We often use the phrase, “I lost someone,” when we refer to a friend or family member who has passed on to Pharasma’s Boneyard and their eternal reward. It’s kind of an odd phrase, isn’t it? It is not as though we’ve mislaid them or left them in our other coat. And yet, it feels like that a bit, doesn’t it? When we turn to say something or point out something that the other person would want to know and we must recall that they are no longer with us, it feels very much like we’ve simply misplaced those dear to us. When you consider the larger picture, it is not inaccurate – they have simply gone ahead, as friends and family are want to do from time to time. We will see them again, we must simply be patient, as must they. Our faith sustains us and assures us that, as we were together before, be it the will of the Gods above, we shall be again.
In the meantime, we have work to do. One of my favorite aphorisms comes to me from a Tian Xia monk I met during my travels in the River Kingdoms: “Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, carrying water and chopping wood.” We give thanks for the hundred little things that we have to do every day because they are the link to all the days before and all the days to come. They are our reminder that we are alive. They are the things that help keep us grounded and humble. They are the moments that, when woven together, are one of our greatest contributions, because they are the moments at which we were engaged in service.
Responsibility is about service. The Dawnflower’s tale is one of service even in the face of impossible odds. When she flew on wings of fire and light to do battle with the Destroyer, there was no way she could defeat him, for she was a mighty angel, but the Destroyer was a great and terrible god. Nevertheless, she went and the love that we humans felt for her in that moment raised her up to godhood and allowed her to smite him and cast him down. In return, Sarenrae will be there for us. When we accept our burdens in faith, the Dawnflower will strengthen us to ensure we can bear the load.
This week, I want each of you to take a moment to reflect. Pick a moment when you’re among friends or family. Take a long look around and consider what that place will look like the day after you are gone. So many have sacrificed their lives so that the world the day after they were gone was a little safer and a little brighter. While their light has gone out of this world, they pushed back the darkness and have now left it to the rest of us to pick up and keep going. While we may not have the training or warrior spirit of a Dyimi Vlastokovich, his sacrifice can grant us the strength of will to persevere. If he would face such trials as those he took on with a laugh and an amazing hat, I think we can carry water and chop wood with a little less grumbling in our hearts, don’t you?
May the Dawnflower bless you and keep you. Let us welcome another day with song.