Living the Light
Last week, Steve drew our attention to the Living World around us, inviting us to contemplate who we are in relationship with Creation. Part of our identity, he said, is in caring for the created world, of which we are a part. How “we live and move and have our being” as a reflection of our Creator depends deeply on the relationships we have with the Natural World, with one another and with God.
During the Children’s Moment on Christmas Eve, I spoke about the light I spoke to the little ones about the light that shines within them. “This Little Light of Mine” naturally arose as a hymn of delight and remembrance of who we are in the world. Even today, as the Women’s Fellowship gathered in our Fireside Room, echoes of that song were heard. We love to sing about the Light that is a part of us! But the truth is, darkness is a part of us, too. We hold in our beings both the propensity to hold the light and the potential for bringing darkness into the world. The light and shadow selves are both brought into our places of worship, into our communities, into the ways we relate to all of Creation.
We often shy away from conversations about our shadow selves. We reject the feelings and emotions that make us feel heavy or dark. We want to escape, to hide, to run away. We try to rush into happiness and delight rather than sitting in the ashes and waiting for the Spirit of God to touch our hearts. In our worship life, the times we present the shadow self are often in confession and forgiveness during Communion or on the High Holy Days leading up to Easter. We might address them in our prayer life at home, or sometimes we’ll gently elude to them in the prayers of the people, but rarely do we invite our pastoral staff to walk or to sit with us in the darkness.
This week, I want to invite you to meditate with me on the presence of darkness as part of creation.
Remember that this past Sunday morning, we read the whole chapter of Genesis 1, in which God creates light and darkness, forms of solidity and forms of fluid and swirls of ether. The Voice of God resounds and brings forth, (or births) the whole of created order – this includes everything from the galaxies and stars to the tiniest of insects and microbes. There is no duality for God. Even though there are clear boundaries erected where the waters approach and recede from, where the light and shadows dance, and where the mountains rise and fall, all of it is declared “very good” or “exceptionally pleasing”.
If then, there is both darkness and light in the created order, and all is declared “very good”, then could it be that our whole self, light and shadow together, is all welcome in the worship space?
We can get wrapped up self-judgment in the perspective of “fallen humanity” or the “heaviness of sin,” but how much deeper could our worship life be, (and our relational lives be) if we could bring our whole selves into the conversation? What might shift? What might open, if we embraced the whole self and were able, with examination of our darkness, to fully embrace the calling of the Light?
As we prepare to come together again for worship, either in body or in spirit, (joining us online via Facebook live, for example) let us consider our whole self.
We will be facing the direction of the West in our navigational compass next Sunday. This is the direction of release, of letting go, of the setting sun and our beautiful Ocean that many people refer to as “Grandmother”. How can we enter into relationship with this direction?
What are we ready to let the sacred waters wash away? What are we ready to release?
Perhaps some of our old perceptions of what is “acceptable” or “worthy” to bring to God?
What are the barriers that keep us from being in full relationship to Creation? To our relationships with one another? To our relationship with our own selves?
Entering into the rest of this week, we can listen to the hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light”.
Consider what is being said in this song. What does it mean to follow Jesus – who walked in the dirt and grit of this world, who sat with the people who were rejected by the pious, who offered healing and food and blessing to the people who were labeled as “less than”? What does it truly mean to Live and Walk as a Child of the Light?
I would postulate that if we are to be like Jesus, then we cannot be afraid to enter into the darkness and encounter our shadow selves...
For a tangible experience, consider spending some time in a dark room at night and lighting a candle. Ask the Spirit of God to dance in the light and shadows and to make you aware of your own light and darkness. Write them in a journal if you wish. And invite the Living Christ to make us whole again.
Blessings upon your meditation this week, my friends!