Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thinking about Light

[Ed. Note: The fact that I have written what could be broken down to 4 shorts posts instead of one long one is not lost on me. I considered changing it all around, but due to operator error I've already had to type this more times that I wanted to.  If you don't want to read it all at once, feel free to break it up into segments. And you'll think to yourself, wow, Merry Me is really on a roll after taking so much time off. me]

I haven't blogged in awhile. Guess I just haven't had much to say.   I thought signing up for NaBloPoMo. Then I realized the first 2 days of November were already behind me. Oh well. Here I am. I'm thinking about Light.

Today I sat under a big ol' Sycamore tree, at a "Church without Walls. Most of the people were what some might called the marginalized - the kind of people, I imagine, that came to hear what Jesus had to say.  The service was held in a parking lot near the part of town where the  homeless hang out before the shelters open up for the evening. There were also teenaged volunteers there to serve sandwiches and bottled water. (Interesting combo, don't you think?) And I suspect there were a few, like Sweetie and I and those who followed Jesus 2000 years ago, who wanted to see what this church without walls was all about.

Today's Gospel was from Matthew 5:1-12. The passage known as the Beatitudes. Blessed are the .....
The passages that follow, however, are what spoke to me.
"You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world." (Matt. 5:14-16) 
Don't you love that? We are meant to be prisms that refract and reflect God-colors.

A brisk wind blew causing leaves to dance from the tree to the grass, as if the Holy Spirit were making it's presence known to Richard, who was about to be baptized. I have a thing for Sycamore trees. The story of the short, tax collector, Zacchaeus, climbing a Sycamore in order to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10) was the gospel reading at the closing of my Cursillo weekend. I admit that I don't remember much about that weekend, or what was preached, but I remember the Sycamore. It's become a symbol for me, of the lengths (sycamores are really tall trees) some will go when they seek the Light. Call it God, if you choose.

In the past few weeks I've been privileged to watch as people of other religions summon the Light into their lives. Pardon me if this sounds blasphemous, but I believe that while there are lots of religions, there is only one Light.  To me, Light is what all of us, not just Christians, seek in a world full of so much darkness. I'm finding the differences in our searching are not as important as the similarities.

First I attended a "naming" ceremony for Caroline, one of the babies I take care of. I've attended a few Jewish services, and found the prayers and message always profoundly moving.

For this ceremony, Caroline was laid on her father's tallit. Each of the four corners was held by chosen participants (what Episcopalians would call Godparents). As each corner is folded around the baby, Scriptural passages are recited in Hebrew and English. At the end, the baby is literally wrapped in God's  light protection and love.

It didn't take long for little Caroline to realize this was going to take a little longer than she'd bargained for. By the 2nd fold when this passage from Psalms was read, she was getting a little fidgety.

"Let my being praise Adonai, who is clothed in spendor and majesty. Wrapped in light like a garment. You unfold the heavens like a curtain. You send forth Your Spirit and there is creation; You renew the face of the earth."  (Psalm 104: 1-2,30)

As her father and mother recited blessings over bread and wine, the Rabbi bestowed upon Caroline a Hebrew name which links her to the generations of her Jewish heritage. I have to say, it was not so different from the Christian baptisms I've attended. The only thing missing was the water. I provided that with my tears.  Caroline wrapped up like a cocoon in her father's prayer shawl and her mother's arms, looked across the room, wondering, no doubt, what was going on. Her eyes met mine and she smiled. That was the moment I saw God's light sparkle in her pretty blue eyes.

On Friday I watched as Bella and her grandmother prepared candles for their Dawali ceremony. I can only share with you what I was told about Dawali - it is a Hindu "festival of lights."Wikipedia says the most significant spiritual meaning behind it is the "awareness of the inner light," a celebration of "victory of good over evil."

Of course Bella is too young to actually help. Eating the uncooked, colored lentils her Grandmother used to decorate the candled tray, proved much more interesting. But I loved watching three generations of women, lighting candles, and placing them by the front door to welcome in the light. Again I felt privileged to be a part of something so sacred.

It would be hard for me to talk about light without mentioning my friend Terri St. Cloud. I think in another life, Terri could have been one of those big round spotlights that are set up in mall parking lots. You know the ones that go around in circles and look like they are signaling incoming airplanes. Terri shines a lot of light in other peoples' lives. To see her most recent offering is a reminder that even though it sometimes feels like we are all alone, we walk through this world together. Sometimes we are the candle that lights another's path, sometimes it is another's light that leads us home.  If you haven't checked out bonesigharts you really should.  Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

To paraphrase Gandhi:
Be the light you want to see in the world.
Merry ME

1 comment:

terri st. cloud said...

mary...not sure if you saw all my fb hub-bub today. but if you did, you might have a small idea of how much this meant to me. sigh. i sat this morning feeling kinda overwhelmed and upset and took some time to remember who i wanted to be. and yeah, 'light' came into my mind. reading this just now brought tears to my eyes. thank you. i've missed you...