Gideon has dark circles under his eyes this morning and seems to be breathing in his coffee as much as he is drinking it. He still greets his parishioners with a smile and small talk about their lives. When it is time to begin, he sets down his coffee and clasps his hands.
Well, good morning. Unless my masterful skills at subterfuge are at work, you will see that I am a bit tired this morning and I apologize if I seem unfocused. Suffice it to say that we have spent a long night working to make things better and we have almost succeeded. More I cannot say at this time and I apologize for that, as well.
Please take a moment this morning to stop over and thank Master Kesten Garess. Master Garess has graciously offered to help us arrange some security for our growing collection of donations. His selflessness in giving his time, not to mention pointing a hapless priest, with no idea of how to proceed in such matters, in the right direction is a blessing and we are very grateful.
I have a confession to make: When I was walking towards the castle this morning, I really did not want to do this. I was tired, my head ached, and I had stubbed three toes on the road. I was, in fact, a thoroughly mopey mess. While I must give some credit to the restorative power of coffee, milk, and sugar, the greatest restorative power I know of is hope. When we cling to our hope fiercely, when we shut it into our hearts, when we refuse to surrender it to despair, my friends, that is the moment when we become true ambassadors of the Dawnflower. Because despair, pain, and, yes, even exhaustion, will try to wrench your hope away from you. They will entice you to wallow in them and simply give up all. In the darkest night before the dawn, the darkness will try to convince you that the dawn will never come – this is a wretched lie that merchants of misery will use to attempt to put out the light that is within you. Do not doubt me, my friends, for I speak in the name of that blessed angel who threw down the Rough Beast – The Dawn Always Comes.
The Dawnflower recognizes many sins: not as many as are, say, in Erastil’s church, but not so few as might be in Desna’s. One of the most terrible sins of our faith is despair. To give in to despair is to let Sarenrae’s light in you flicker out and make the world darker. When we are honest, when we strive to do better, when we help each other and heal each other, these are the moments when that light grows brighter. In the beginning, Sarenrae’s light was bright enough to reveal the lies of the Prince of Lies himself; when we all shine, darkness has no place to hide.
But what do we do when despair gnaws at us? When life’s troubles weigh us down so much that the siren call of surrender beckons us to simply collapse beneath our load and grow comfortable in misery? It is in these moments that we must recall that we are not alone. Reach out to your neighbor and be a neighbor worth reaching out to. We thrive and we shine in those moments when we lift up one another, our lights en masse becoming far brighter than they ever were singly. Reach out to me and I will do my utmost to help. Of course, reach out to the Dawnflower, who will hear your prayer and respond.
As we sing the hymn this morning, I invite those of you with burdens on your heart to come forward and let us pray together. Let us lift those burdens from your shoulders and unite you with the army of friends and neighbors you see around you. Together, we can lighten your burdens so that you can shine once more.
Let us sing.