There is a lovely phrase in Genesis 24 that describes the moment when Isaac walks out into the fields, just before he sees Rebecca for the very first time. “Isaac went out to wander in the fields, לפנות ערב, just at the turning of the evening.” There is an English word which captures this same sense – the gloaming, meaning dusk, or twilight. That moment when it is neither day nor night, but for an instant or two, somewhere in between. Or perhaps impossibly both at the same time.
Of course there are many turnings. From youth to old age, from summer to fall, from night to day, from waking to sleep and back again. And from one year to the next. All different, but each with a sense of shifting, or perhaps drifting is a better word. Between two states, or worlds, or times or seasons. All with the sense that there is a flow, some great river-narrative that we all are riding, with foaming rapids and quieter eddies, with rocks and branches, its powerful current implacably moving us along. It is a narrative less of words and more of moments, of winds and mountains, of laughter and tears, of feeling and deep blue skies and cold snow and fish swimming in clear water. The ‘turning moments’ remind us that we are part of a grand story, ancient and wise and beautiful, that has gone on long before we entered it, and will continue long after we leave. And there is awe in that thought, and perhaps comfort too.
A last thought, from the music always cluttering my mind. The Grateful Dead were masters at finding the ‘turning moments’ of the musical journey they wove when they played on that great stage of life. Order emerging from chaos, from a cacophony of notes a melody, from deep space a recognizable place to tread, to rest one’s weary soul. When did those songs emerge? How? One song bleeding into the next, keys and scales clashing impossibly, but somewhere one note and we all knew. A gentle swell of recognition, a new song, a new moment, a new place. We arrived together.