Saturday, December 22, 2007

Grateful for the light

6:00 a.m. Up early on this Saturday morning to enjoy the lights in the living room against a background of darkness. We have a regular Christmas tree and two smaller tabletop trees, plus the lighted "snow village" that someone gave me as a going-away present three weeks ago. In the dark, the living room is magically aglow with the light.

In three days we will celebrate the light of God entering the world.

A few years ago I was on vacation in Albuquerque. Having breakfast out on the back porch one morning, I noticed the sun’s light through the tall trees. I could see the beams, and I imagined the individual particles. Sparkly. Smoky-looking. Breathtaking.

I don’t know how long I sat there, mesmerized by seeing light itself.

And I remembered this story by Scott Peck. He was in another city on a several-day speaking engagement. His host was an older woman, an artist. On their last night together she commented, “Perhaps it’s because I’m an artist, but lately I’ve begun to think that God is light.” And he says, rather pompously, “Light has always been one of the synonyms for God…”
But she interrupts him. “No. I’m not sure you understand. I think that perhaps God really is light."

The light through those trees that morning in Albuquerque…Ah, so this is God.

(lpn2rn40, flicker)

Unimaginable peace. And profound insight as well. Suffusing me in that moment was the knowledge that if God is light, then in some greater-than-mere-metaphor-way, so are we.Today would have been my mother's 89th birthday. Growing up, I took delight in the fact that she was born three days before Christmas, and I was born three days after ~ the symmetry of it somehow bringing us closer and making me special.

While her unique light in this world no longer shines visible to the human eye, my faith tells me that the light she brought, the light she was, yet exists. It continues, I know, in my own yearning for beauty. My Depression-era mother's concern with saving money lay in tension with her desire for beauty. She bought one set of truly fine living room furniture and simply recovered it through the years ~ the quality so high that my sister enjoys it still. I have a clear memory of once being in her bedroom as she was decorating, hanging a mirror on the wall above a small dresser. This was in San Antonio, so I was about 11 years old. To my shock, she was not placing the mirror in the center. "Mom, what are you doing?" I exclaimed. "Just watch," she replied. By placing the mirror to one side, my mother created something different. That was the day I learned how "off-center" can be beautiful.

My mother's light continues also in its influence for justice in me. The date was April 4, 1968. I was 12. I came home from school talking about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and no doubt mimicking some of the less-than-loving remarks about him from my schoolmates. My mother's response was swift and strong and clear: "Oh, NO, Katy. No. HE WAS A GOOD MAN." That was the day I learned something crucial about race and oppression and the cost of justice.

And four years later in 1972. Glued to the television as the events unfolded at Munich's Olympic Village, I expressed my outrage at the Palestinian terrorists' actions against the Israeli athletes. Seared into my memory is my mother's response, educating me about the injustice the Palestinian people were suffering. That was the day I learned to stop and look much more deeply at the complexity involved in justice.

Yes, my mother's light continues in this world. In these, and so many other ways.

Well, the sun is up now. The lovely glow from the Christmas trees and my little "snow village" are no longer quite as brilliant. But the light from the sun through the windows provides another way of seeing beauty. The old elm tree in our back yard is just about bare now, its naked branches still towering about the house. The lawn is strewn with leaves, but D says today is "yard day," so they will be gone soon enough. Our little "forest" beyond the back fence, while more brown than green this December morning, still leads to the creek. It's a lovely view for which I am grateful.

And all made possible from the light.


steve said...

What a beautiful reflection! Thank you! It's been a joy to get to know you through your blog this year.

Rev SS said...

Beautiful reflection of Godlight! Thank you. I'm with Steve, it's a joy to get to know you through your blog.

Jan said...

Katherine, what a lovely reflection for this day that is three days before Christmas. I especially treasure the memories you have of your mother showing you the Light. Her Light is here with you (and us) always. Light--thank you for these thoughts today.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

Merry Christmas, Katherine.