Early Morning Light

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I love my early morning hour, when I am up and no one else is around, save family cats walking to and fro, trying to find their perfect spots for the day. In the early morning hours, a world that constantly shouts is quiet and I can hear a whisper. For a long time I thought it was God who needed a hearing aid, my cries for grace and mercy seemingly ignored by deaf ears and non-reaction. But it was I who needed the hearing aid; my ears could no longer distinguish the true whispers of God from the cacophony of noise in the world around me.

When your ears are tuned to a shout, it’s difficult to hear a whisper.

This morning I sit in a room that feels flooded with light from new living room windows. They are crisp and clean, aglow with the morning. They still need a coat of paint so I have not yet hung the curtains that normally fall, covering half the window. Because of this, they expose more light than normal, broad naked windows allowing all the daylight to flood the room.

We can easily see outside, no obstructed view — and the outside can easily see us. On the one hand I love the light, but the other side of this is that I feel the vulnerability of exposure, of all the world seeing inside our home, our lives.

And yet – I love this light. 

As I sit at my familiar spot, soft couch pillows at my back, open windows to my side and a variety of birds loudly chirping in the early morning hour, I think about the life-truth of what I feel. When I am honest with others I feel the glory of light along with the vulnerability of exposure. I am unguarded, open to criticism and attack, but also open to the joy of real relationship.

I am not one who feels like we need to be emotionally naked with everyone; I don’t feel it’s wise or healthy – and I don’t feel this is true vulnerability. Many of us have had the difficult experience of sharing deeply, wide-open with our fears and hurts, only to be wounded even further. But if we only share with people who we think are safe, we may lose out on growing in ways that we could never imagine.

What I know is true about my windows and light echoes over and over in my faith tradition. There are many verses on light but perhaps my favorite is in the first book of John. This book, the size of three modern-day blog posts, is full of love, light, and truth. In 1 John 7a the author writes this: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” It’s the beauty of relationship that comes from the willingness to let in light.

Today I will probably put up my curtains. Because life is not a metaphor, and real life in the city calls for some degree of privacy. But for now I sit bathed in light, and at peace.

What about you? Where have you found relationship in being vulnerable, in letting in light? 

 

When I Stumble in the Dark

because I can't walk in the dark

It’s when I’m walking in the dark that I stumble on them and curse. Small, brass pyramids – their triangular shapes piercing into my tender skin.

We had purchased several sets, one for each child. Stocking stuffers that had seemed a good idea at the time.

But in the middle of the night, in the dark I glare at the idea. Who cares about the details? All I know is they were where they were not supposed to be – the floor.

They hurt me and I’m angry.

And that’s what happens when I try to walk in the dark. I stumble and I hurt myself. It’s either a bed post or dresser corner, pair of shoes or pieces of Lego. It matters not what it is, the fact remains – I stumble and I hurt myself.

I can’t walk in the dark. I must have a light.

The spiritual lesson is not lost on me. I’m clear as to what this means. I can’t do this walk of life without a light. Even a pinpoint of light is enough to guide me and keep me safe from obstacles.

Because I can’t walk in the dark, I get hurt walking in the dark.

You, O Lord, Keep my lamp burning;

My God turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 18:28

 

Out of Darkness, Into Light

Every day I ride the subway line into the city of Boston. It’s a short ride, going from Central Square in Cambridge to the busy Park Street stop just off the Boston Commons. At one segment in that short ride we come out from the deep underground of the city and we are above ground overlooking the Charles River, the city of Cambridge on one side, the city of Boston on the other. It is glorious to come out of darkness into the light of the day. It never gets old.

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In the quiet night the girl lies alone. She can hear the breathing of five others in the boarding school dormitory room where she lies. All of her roommates have been asleep for a long time.

They don’t know she is awake. They don’t know that every night she wakes in a panic, a scream just ready to break the silence. That it takes her a moment to calm, to realize she is not being attacked – she is safe with 5 other girls, all of them young teens. She cries out to a far away God, desperate to reclaim the innocence of her faith from before the attack, desperate for some measure of comfort.

The man who violated her is a respected member of the missionary community in the city where her parents work. He is a household name; a frequent household guest.

No one would ever believe her — a 14-year-old teen who is known for her sparkling personality; her love for the dramatic. She physically wards off the panic and the tears by folding her arms tightly across her chest, feeling the warm flannel of her pajamas. It’s in the early hours of dawn when she finally falls back into a dreamless sleep.

In another room and building a little boy has just woken up in tears. He has wet the bed. The other missionary kids are white – and he is not. He is subject to sometimes merciless bullying – and no one stops it.

He curls into a ball. How can he change his sheets so no one will know? He cries out to an absent mom, longing for the comfort that would come from her presence, knowing he will never tell her.

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Cairo, LightIt’s dark and it’s painful – but abuse of missionary kids is rightly being brought into the light. The loyalty code that makes people hesitant to confront is being replaced by a Godly recognition of sin and the need for confrontation and repentance, the need for justice.

There are some horrific stories – and there are some just plain sad stories, but they can’t heal until they are brought to the light. It’s a warped sense of honor, a twisted allegiance that tells us we need to forgive without confronting and bringing to light that which has wronged or destroyed.

And the thing with light is this: Even a bit can dispel darkness, even a candle illuminates and makes room for us to see more clearly; even a little light can comfort. And God who sees into the silent, sleepy dormitory asks us to speak into the dark, speak truth where lies were planted, offer hope where despair has been rooted, offer comfort in the face of torment.

Because these ones who were hurt have been called out of darkness into His glorious light; a light that dispels darkness and blinds us with its beauty and power. A light that never grows old. 

Blogger’s note: I wrote this as I do all my posts – with a deep breath and a prayer. The post is not intended to hurt further – rather to offer a word of hope. My great prayer is that it does that. For those who have been hurt, violated, abused as missionary kids there is a conference that will be held in April in Chicago.

“Abuse sent many MKs and their families on an ‘Unexpected Journey’. This conference will address actions and steps to help us move toward reclaiming our lives and breaking the silence.” MK Safety Net Conference in Chicago Unexpected Journey’April 19 – 21, 2013

When the Tree Lights Go Out

English: Closeup of a string of decorative Chr...

It happens every year. After Christmas and New Year celebrations end, a melancholy comes upon me and I struggle to make sense of life.

I’d like to blame it on the cold, but weather has little to do with it, for the melancholy has come in desert sun and in northeast snow. It isn’t about depression, or seasonal affective disorder, or disillusionment.

It’s about living out the reality of Christmas once the lights on the tree have gone out.

When my winter world sparkles with white light and presents I can believe that God is here and he is Good. I can believe that all I do matters, that I can make a difference, that the world can be redeemed.

And then the lights go out and the world feels dark. And I understand how my toddler felt when I used to turn the lights off and leave him alone in the dark with Jesus.

It’s now when I need the verses I have committed to memory; it’s at this point when my theology faces off with my reality; it’s in this place that I need Truth to feed my soul and calm my spirit. It’s today that my Faith needs to walk.

How about you? As the lights of the tree fade into your memory and photo book, how do you live the reality of Christmas?