We seek the light in the darkness, the joy in the mundane, seek ways to make our work worship  — and on afternoons like this, may our simple tasks, our simple prayers be as incense, rising up [2, 3].
And so I wrote less.
Because it’s so heavy to know, and yet not know what to do.
Because it’s so heavy to hear all about the death and the disease and the abandonment and the starvation and the cries, and be so heart-wrenchingly aware that you still just stand here with the ability to just turn it off and stop listening.
And so I wrote less and showed up here less often, and shared fewer pretty things, and stopped saying, please, just would you look at the sunrise? And would you just look at the person next to you, and realize how alive they are? And I stopped coming here to nudge you to see the beauty in the clouds and in the rain, and in your cold coffee and in your traffic jams and in your sleeplessness.
But that’s not right.
When a mountain top is ravaged by wildfire, and the stones crumble and the trees turn to powder and ash and the blackness covers everything, when in that trembling heap a small green stem unfurls and pushes through and raises his brave head to show us his brightly colored petals, wet with dew — when that happens, we don’t turn away because there is ash all around. No, we lock eyes with the flower. We see the sun shining on it, we see the contrast between death and life, and we embrace that little jewel of life with all the strength our weak arms can grasp.
We’re not afraid that loving the flower means we don’t grasp the seriousness of the ravages of disaster. We don’t ever worry that our voice, tiny in this world, calling out “Look! There is beauty! See it burst through!” makes the burnt mountain worse — we just love every precious delicate petal and call out and cry out and cling to the light and the beauty and the hope of it all.
So maybe that’s why some of us are put here on this earth. We see the fear and the disaster and the starvation and the longing for Hope, and we also see the flower pushing through the rubble of it all. And maybe some of us are put here to be voices calling others to look to the Light. Look to the Hope.
There is Beauty still.
We want to say the memories split the light in half, the way a single mountain peak does at sunrise, when the orb of burning fire rises just beyond the apex. But the truth is, the light never splits that way. Really, it diffuses, it lights up every crevice and ridge and line until the whole horizon is in flames. As much as we want to fold up the memories and draw lines around them and never travel their pathways again, memories don’t compartmentalize. There is no Continental Divide.
We can’t divy the past up — this drop for the Atlantic and this drop for the Pacific — because water and light don’t work that way. Memories wrap around us, they are us. We’ve been led through the past and we’ve been redeemed and we are redeemed and we are being redeemed, right in this very rain-drenched, sun-soaked moment.
A mountain can’t hide the sun any more than droughts can prove rain is a myth. And shadows, those shifting slate-grey mirages, depend on light for their very existence.
And so deluge or drought, midnight or dawn, shadow or noon, there’s still light
and there’s still life-giving rain
and there’s still hope.
“Where does the light goes?” she asks. “Where does it goes?”
No one really knows, we say. It’s all packets and photons and waves. But, this we know. It’s always there, even when it’s dark, because the darkness is no match for light. Light swallows the dark, and the dark will never triumph over light.
She presses her forehead against the glass, and looks out at the solid sheet of afternoon clouds. She asks, “It still a sunny day? It not night?”
It’s called daylight, we say. Even when we can’t see sunshine, we’re still wrapped in light.
It’s almost sunset. The sphere of light is edged in coral, sliding down behind the ridge just across the highways. “Where da sun go now? It move in da sky?” she asks.
It is we who move, we say. The light is always there, an anchor. We move around it, our faces to it, our eyes fixed on it.
“Leave my farkle [sparkle] light on?” she asks. “Leave it on?”
We have to turn it out, we say. It’s time to sleep. It’s dark, but just for a little while. The morning will come. And it will be light again.
There’s something so pure about the morning light. It falls through the sky in a way it does no other time of the day, it falls and dances and pulls the air around it into gossamer waves. The early hours pull and push and twist the light into an opaque filter that infuses the morning in possibility. Awash in new mercies, morning light stands up strong against uncertainty and tugs my eyes and heart upward, to the Light, to the Giver of light, to the Hope of all living things.
Jobs, plans, circumstances — these offer no promise of constancy, but Jesus does. When the future looks as temporary as words etched into sand at high tide, when faced with uncertainty, there is a Rock. There is an Anchor.
And there is morning light, a tiny glimpse of light eternal, to spring up each day and remind us all that He is constant, He is never-changing, He is rivers of light.
“You’re in a cosmos
star-flung with constellations by God,
A world God wakes up each morning
and puts to bed each night.
God dips water from the ocean
and gives the land a drink.
God, God-revealed, does all this.”
-Amos 5:8, The Message translation
It’s important to combat the tyranny of the urgent. We must not let it consume us.
It’s important to live slowly enough to see tiny moments; those transcendent moments which stand outside of time and give you a glimpse into something beyond what this world can offer.
This morning, as the curtains filtered the sun, and the light wrapped around my little girl, I couldn’t help but realize I was seeing through a glass, dimly. I couldn’t help but think we are souls, primarily; we are bodies only temporarily. (Side note: contrary to popular belief; that’s not actually a C.S. Lewis quote.)
And so in this moment of shadows and light, of heaven and earth, of beauty both tangible and intangible, there was worship.
“The purpose of theology – the purpose of any thinking about God – is to make the silences clearer and starker to us, to make the unmeaning – by which I mean those aspects of the divine that will not be reduced to human meanings – more irreducible and more terrible, and thus ultimately more wonderful. This is why art is so often better at theology than theology is.” –Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss, 130.
“…The coffee has begun to mix with the air. She turns to run away, and the sun falls through the smudged windowpane and dances across the back of her head…” [continue reading]
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