Walking Our Faith: How the light gets in (column)
Walking Our Faith
I am not a skier so I cannot speak to the quality of snow. But as a writer who sits at her desk staring out the window at the woods and mountains I can speak to the quality of light.
I spend a lot of time considering light through different seasons of the year: the delicate silver gray of winter dawn; its growing intensity as spring ripens; the golden, dry haze of waning summer and early autumn; and the luminous light of a full moon casting shadows on deep winter snow.
As someone who fears driving at night, I look out windows to judge how much time I have left before it grows dark and estimate the time it will take me to reach home.
Which is what I did on Thursday evening. I almost didn’t make it to church for Maundy Thursday Mass. I promised God that for the three days of the Tridium leading to Easter I would leave my worries at the foot of the Cross. But I didn’t.
I am as single-minded as a child with a loose tooth. At 5:45 on Thursday afternoon I stood in my kitchen and considered not going to church because over the course of the afternoon I’d worried an unanswered prayer and petulantly concluded, I’ll just stay home.
Thankfully I did not. Or I should say, thank God. When I arrived at St. Mary’s, I saw my friends. There was Barbara and Barb and I sat next to Larry who told me he would be the lector this evening, and when I asked if I could take his place for the second reading, he generously agreed.
Here’s what I read before our congregation: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians, 11:23-26, NIV)
These words celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, the cornerstone of our faith, the greatest gift we could ever receive, the gift of God‘s love.
After Mass on Maundy Thursday, the altar is cleared and the Blessed Sacrament is carried by Father Emmanuel from our main sanctuary to the small chapel next door, where we sit in silence and spend time in the presence of Jesus.
As I did, my mind wandered as I considered what I had given up for Lent and whether this Lent was as good as previous years. In the midst of my comparisons came the still small voice of God, “Accept.”
That was God’s gift to me and my most important Lenten lesson. A relationship with God is not about giving up something or giving away. It is not a performance or an obstacle course to be completed or passed. God only asks us to accept his love.
As I pondered this single word, my mind cleared of anxiety and impatience and in its place I received peace.
But I could not stay much longer. Beyond the windows of the chapel the sky faded to sullen gray. As I cast a sideways glance from my bowed head, I calculated how long it would take me to drive home and prayed once again that someday I could move closer to town so I wouldn’t have to drive so far in the dark.
Reluctant to move even with the encroaching darkness, I savored the gift of peace and thought how often I forget even as the light changes, the light itself is never extinguished. And so it is with God when clouds enter our life, obstacles become obdurate and love becomes loneliness.
When Saint John said Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, I believe he meant both literally and figuratively. Like light, Jesus is a constant in our lives, source of creation, present before all time and through all time he exists until nothing else exists.
Jesus Christ is the light that illuminates our lives, illuminates our path, a constant love that pushes darkness into its deep recesses, until the pain and shame, guilt, depression and futility carried in the darkness is no more because it cannot withstand the light of this great love. It shrinks back to its proper place.
We may forget that we are loved and worthy of love, but God does not. The Light never stops shining for us, God‘s love for us is never diminished. On Easter morning, the price has been paid, the resurrection accomplished, all we have to do is say yes, I accept.
So bring your broken heart and your darkness and your fear to the foot of the cross and join me there.
Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge. Her books can be found at the Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco, and at the Tattered Cover in Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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