The Light of Life

. . . I am the light of the world; he that followeth me
shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
                                                                        —John 8:12 (KJV)

On Morris Island for Easter sunrise,
I face a faraway horizon and pray for peace,
knowing remains of human beings lie below
the ever-shifting sands, high tide or low.

Spirits of soldiers in blue who bravely assaulted,
and fewer in gray who resolutely defended
that fabled fortification known as Battery Wagner
so long ago hover here in glorious repose.

From an impartial perspective, their respective causes
could be called ending “man’s inhumanity to man,”
or simply protecting the place of one’s birth
for which there was profound parochial pride.

It is likely, given the mores of that era,
that each man in his own principled way
was following his Lord wherever he was led.
Afterward, some limped home, many were dead.

Listen to what Abraham Lincoln prophetically said:
“Both read the same Bible,
and pray to the same God; and each
invokes His aid against the other . . . .

“but let us judge not that we be not judged . . . .
The prayers of both could not be answered;
that of neither has been answered fully.
The Almighty has His own purposes . . . .”

A postbellum lighthouse, out of service but preserved,
has drifted perilously offshore with erosion.
In the past its light of life saved seamen from the deep.
This morning it brings to mind another kind of savior.

This poem was inspired by a stunning sunrise photo of the Morris Island Lighthouse near Charleston, South Carolina, taken by the Reverend Mickey Bell, a retired pastor of the United Methodist Church.

From the collection Nuda Veritas, published in Ireland by Revival Press.