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Posts Tagged ‘light’

Statue, Touching Heaven, Brussels

Statue, Touching Heaven, Brussels

As Christians, we are all taught that our God-given destiny is heaven, eternal life, and all that. I can remember, as a child, wondering why everyone thought being in heaven would be so wonderful if we were really just standing around worshiping God and singing all the time. Sounded boring to me. This is where humans are once again clueless.

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.  [I John 3:2; The Voice translation]

We have made up our destiny just like we have made up pictures of Jesus, angels, God, and even the devil. We keep putting them into our own understanding, our own limited imagination. We smile at Elijah’s “chariot of fire” as it whisks him off into the sky or John’s revelation of beasts covered in eyeballs. How primitive their interpretations, we think. But are we any better?

I am reading a fantasy book in which a young girl has been “glamored” with the appearance of human. She’s really faerie, a green pixie in fact. In those types of books, a glamor is an enchantment in which there is a corporate acceptance of what is seen. It is a covering or mask. It was one of the tricks of the Jedi too, to simply plant an idea in the mind of another of what he/she was really seeing.

The truth is, we have very few clues about heaven. Any description in scriptures has been filtered through human. There is much, much more, I’m sure of it. Heaven and eternal life are not extensions of what we are today.

I don’t mean to crudely disappoint those who have expectations of “seeing” their loved ones in heaven. I’m sure, in some state or another, we will encounter the family of God, but we will not look, feel, taste, or see the same. It’s not like this. It’s not here. And that’s the point.

Our destiny is to be like Christ who came to earth to reveal, just a little, of what true living is . . . what Spirit life does, how it works and what its impact is when applied to a 3-D world (hence: miracles). Of course, the norm of Spirit will appear to be a miracle: it’s outside of time and space.

I do not know my true destiny. This is the message of John’s letter. But when I get there, I will know and I will recognize the Christ. . . . and myself in a whole new way.

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Don Quijote by Octavio Ocampo

Don Quijote by Octavio Ocampo

What is your outlook on life? What is mine, really? Am I a visionary or am I looking down at all the ruts in the road? Do I see a panorama or have I become tunnel visioned? Do I face each day with anticipation (because anything can happen) or apprehension? Do I keep things “in perspective” or is my world askew . . . because of my outlook?

 Listen, your eye, your outlook, the way you see is your lamp. If your way of seeing is functioning well, then your whole life will be enlightened. But if your way of seeing is darkened, then your life will be a dark, dark place. So be careful, people, because your light may be malfunctioning.  [Luke 11:34-45, The Voice Translation]

It’s probably a little of both, but today, I want to be aware. I want to be sensitive to my default way of looking. What is drop-back to normal really like? I have a bad feeling about this assignment today. I talk a good talk; I write a good write. But how do I really look at the world around me?

Be brave. Be true.

I am a visual person mostly. I take the world in through my eyes. But have I lost much of what is out there to see?

Back in the day, I had the honor of playing Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker by William Gibson. And although it’s a dramatic moment  the movie to watch Helen Keller suddenly “understand” her world and give water a name, it is even more mind-blowing to live it onstage with another actress fully engaged in the role. Helen Keller saw in a way that most of us never will. She met her  world head on and embraced it.

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Restart. Rewind. Renew. Begin . . . again. Yesterday, Pastor Jess said, “no one is unreachable.” There is a time and a place for everyone. There is a moment of discovery, a moment when the “light” wins. Today, in the midst of the biggest storm (Hurricane Sandy) the Mid-Atlantic has ever experienced, the light is coming back on in my spirit, finally. Like the tiny flame of a candle in a dark room, it reveals much. It’s time to fan the flame. I am turning on despite the lights outside going out.

Genesis 1:1-3
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

When God, who is able to create “something out of nothing,” created light, God stopped and looked around and said, “good stuff,” good work, well done: this is pleasing. Light is good. Revelation is good. Renewal is good.

It’s possible that we will lose power soon and light will be hard to come by in the natural world. We will be plunged into the darkness of the storm. And we will have to find sustenance in the small things and the small lights. We will hold fast to those lights. And we will have to remind ourselves of the hope that promises greater lights in the days to come: recovery, rebuilding, renewal. It will be possible again.

In the meantime, however, I want to remember that my own small light began to shine again today. The word was illuminated and I breathed in Spirit.

 

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Photo by James Thobe

Peace is another word for God as is Light and Love and Jesus. I seek and I find and then I must pursue the next seeking and the next finding.

I Peter 3:11
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. [Psalm 34:14]

Through the course of this Lenten study on seeking, I have discovered that seeking is also asking, it’s an internal process, an acknowledgment of now and a need change, it’s humbling, it’s sowing, it’s trusting in both the process and the results, it’s repentance, it’s persistence and desire (as strong as thirst in the desert), and most of all, it’s learning to recognize the One who is sought. It’s a cycle of findings.

Like any other spiritual practice, it’s a discipline and requires both mindfulness and diffidence. This is a journey for the long haul. This is a lifelong practice.

I lose the sense of process so quickly along the way. My personality is one that prefers projects (beginning, middle, and END). I want to get there. I want to see the finish line so I know I’m going the right way.

But, alas, the walk of faith is not built this way. I know it in my head and yet, I keep trying to change the rules of engagement.

In nature, every season has a new challenge, it’s either too wet or too dry, too cold or too hot. Predators abound as do victims. Disease finds root and spreads. Death appears unyielding and potent, but then new life springs up with even more vigor, like new growth after a devastating forest fire.

Hope and faith are the fuel of seeking.

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Meandering Passage: Light Ahead

After all, peace is fleeting, fragile and easily broken. Peace is readily distracted. Peace is coy, difficult to find and keep. And worst of all, peace is relative to our perceptions and experience. Peace is not simply the absence of violence. Peace is intentional.

Psalm 34:12, 14
Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, . . . Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Before I can even consider the pursuit of peace, I must first turn from evil and do good. In other words, peace is impossible in the midst of evil-doing: lying, cheating, gossiping, coveting, envying, gluttony, resenting and hating, just to name a few. And then there are the more obvious crimes of evil among peoples and nations: murder, adultery, stealing, bribery, destruction, uncontrolled ambition.

How badly do I want peace? Am I willing to turn away from bad habits in the name of peace? Or, is it just a kind of talk, a warm fuzzy type of wishful thinking. Is it like hoping to win the lottery. Am I waiting for some outside force to give me the desire to change? If I just had this or that, then I could change. If my husband was better, different, stronger, more loving and attentive, more anything, then I can change? If my children were more obedient, considerate, thoughtful, reliable, or successful in school, then I can change? If I had a better job and a housekeeper, a cook and a complete wardrobe, then I can change?

Then I can exercise every day and stop eating emotionally, then I can stop hiding my “white lies,” then I can stop judging and gossiping, then I can stop envying my contemporaries for their apparent successes. Then…. then…. then?

Here’s the most likely solution. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not turning away from the evils and mistakes all at once. It’s in baby steps. And for each turning, there is a puzzle piece to the mystery of peace. Each time, I choose to walk away from the gravitational pull of sin (error, offense, pride), the path to peace is lit up just a little more.

Do I love life? Real life. Expansive, balanced, thrumming life? Or, have I settled for less?

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Blinding Darkness

I don’t hate anyone. I don’t think I hate anyone. It’s such a strong word, so bitter. It conjures up all kinds of negative feelings, dark looks, hostile language. But of course, I have said “I can’t stand her” or “I can barely tolerate being around him.” Am I any better? Have I split the “hate” hairs?

I John 2:11
But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

So, here’s what I know right now. There’s been enough negativity coming out of my mouth, right off the top of my heart, that I’m living in twilight… not darkness, but not light either.

And the twilight is casting shadows in my relationships.

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I am no scientist so I don’t have much to add to any discussion about “light” as a phenomenon. I know that light travels very fast and mostly we see light as a reflection. I know light can be a wonderful respite in a dark place and intolerable with a migraine. But am I in relationship with Light?


I John 1:5, 7a
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. . . . But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, . . .

It’s difficult to talk about light in some new way that hasn’t already been investigated, sermonized, or otherwise been fully covered through exegesis. The only opening in this very crowded marketplace would be something very personal.

So what could that be? How do I engage light in my daily life? The light I read by at night in my bed? The lights of my car when I’m driving at night, less and less securely? The light of the computer screen? The light of candles that dot most of the surfaces in my home? The only time my family doesn’t complain about the candles are those infrequent days when the electricity goes out. There is the light in the refrigerator that I take for granted. There is the light in my stove that has never worked. There is the street light outside that manages to seep through my blinds and twinkle just enough to wake me in the middle of the night. There is the light show from my cable and router, day and night, pulsing out the information bits that stream across my desk.

But all of these lights are outside of me.

Do I know the light within? Is it just an idea, a way of expressing an unknowable, unseen presence? Or is there light in the soul, the heart, the spirit?

Other faiths speak of the light as well. New Age folks as well as various Eastern religions follow the idea that the light within is one of the most powerful energies in the Universe. The Light of the World.

Light to light: heart to heart: human to human: God to human and back again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to artificially “glow in the dark” which is apparently now possible in animals through some kind of scientific hi jinx. Here’s a story about glowing cats. But I would like to experience the light within in a tangible way. Is that stupid? I suppose some would say I’m talking about “aura” or some other para-psychological phenomenon.

I don’t mean that either. God is Light and God is within. Therefore, light is within and that light must be of greater value than just a nice metaphor.

Relax, everyone. I’m just thinking out loud. Has anyone out there had a Christ-based experience with Light? I’d be interested in your stories.

From the web: (an excerpt from the publication, Sacred Architecture)
Light, then, formed the “medium and message” for illiterate Christians of the Middle Ages, using narrative and metaphoric imagery to convey the truths of the Faith while steeping the faithful in the spiritually evocative experience of the beauty of God with a mystical atmosphere created by jewel-toned pictures written in light, as well as subtly changing colors in the air and on interior stone walls. The faithful, accustomed to learn aurally, received the message of the Gospel verbally—but with reinforcing visual images created by light, sources of beauty and awe that, it was believed, could mystically connect the eyes of the beholder with the truths depicted, and thus remain lifelong reminders of catechetical knowledge and of the experience of God.

The modern church would do well to rediscover these proven catechetical techniques, filling church interiors with beautiful images of colored light, thereby satisfying human desires for visual stimulation, symbolic representations of theological truths, and the touch of the mystical in prayer. Modern eyes are exposed to so much sophisticated visual imagery; our catechetical efforts should include much more than written words by building upon the rich heritage of visual catechesis displayed by the traditions associated with stained glass windows. The Church teaches that eternal bliss in Heaven is the Beatific Vision—an experience expressed as a “visual” encounter with the knowledge of God, a “light” that fulfills and completes each person’s existence for all eternity. By providing visual and atmospheric beauty that captures the eternal truths in “lights of Faith,” the windows in our churches can teach as before and give an experience of the transcendent to the faithful, to “go beyond mere teaching—unless the sudden instinctive recognition of beauty is the greatest lesson of all.” — Lights of Faith, Stained Glass Windows as Tools for Catechesis by Carol Anne Jones

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