Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How the Light Gets In

Days like today, when the sun is shining bright and low through my family room window and full beam into my face, I long to make this space my office, where I can soak in the winter's dim rays and work at the dark tasks that usually drag me down to where the sun doesn't shine.

It's been a hard year. A good year. A sad one. Full of heartbreak for more reasons than I can count and full of blessings beyond measure. There is joy. There were lost friendships (how can this be?!) and there were new friendships gained (such a grace)!

I look forward with expectation. These ups and downs? They are life. LIFE, I tell you! The pain and joy alike help me know I am ALIVE. Given breath and life and health for another day. Another day to love and be loved. To share and bless and give generously. Another day to spend lavishly out of the mercies I receive new every morning.

I choose. Yes. I CHOOSE not to get stuck on those who judge me wrongly. Or for those who refuse to forgive my wrongs. I pray for them to find love that casts out fear and moves them away from the idol of self-protection.

God knows, none of us want to hurt like this ever again, but does withholding forgiveness heal you? On the contrary, it twists our insides. Trust me. I know. I've sat in that judgement seat. It's not a comfortable place and it's certainly not my place. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Forgive or you won't be forgiven, says God. Dangerous thing to withhold. To withdraw. To condemn.

A friend and I were chatting via text. She was cleaning her chandelier and when all the pieces had been put back together, she discovered one was missing. A large one, she said. "Now it is going to bug me," she said, "which is silly, because I'm assuming it was missing all along and I wasn't bugged until I now know it is gone!"

We can still see the beauty of the crystal chandelier, even when a piece is missing. Do we throw it all out because of one missing piece that we didn't realize was gone? Or could it be a reminder, that beauty still exists, even when there is a hole in the heart of it? Could it be a reminder that we can focus on what's missing, or we can focus on what remains? Can I find the beauty?

I am grateful:
- for parents-in-love who still call me daughter
- for birth family who still call
- for a son who has grown into a man who thinks and plans and cares and loves
- for laughter
- for music
- for a housemate
- for friends near and far who pray and encourage
- for heartbreak so I know who the unsafe people are
- for healing because there are more safe people in the world who love without reservations
- for neighbors who call when I leave the garage open by accident
- for my "coffee pod" with three other significant women - we "do life together"

As I slow down and look for beauty, I discover it is always there. Here with me, just waiting to be found. Gifts in the ordinary. A rainbow spectrum of colours that appears from the sun shining through a misty veil of cloud.

I stop typing. Run to find my DSLR. Try a hundred different combinations to capture this unusual phenomenon. Share the beauty. Not everyone can slow and still and see.

Not everyone yet knows how to slow and still and see.

Just like the recording of the crickets Jim Wilson slowed down - it sounds like voices in chorus. Musician Tom Waits said it was the most interesting recording he owns.
It's a mysteriously beautiful recording ... of crickets. That's right, crickets. The first time I heard it ... I swore I was listening to the Vienna Boys Choir, or the Mormon Tabernacle choir. It has a four-part harmony. It is a swaying choral panorama. Then a voice comes in on the tape and says, "What you are listening to is the sound of crickets. The only thing that has been manipulated is that they slowed down the tape." No effects have been added of any kind, except that they changed the speed of the tape. The sound is so haunting. 
How is it, a sound that can be so irritating when you are trying to sleep be so beautiful when the speed is adjusted? A change in perspective turns irritation into beauty. A grain of sand in the oyster produces a pearl. Rocks tumbling together over time smooths and polishes the stones.

Just like the slowing of the sounds of crickets our perspective on the world and the "noise" and the glare of the bright light or the hole of a missing crystal or an absent relationship, all these can either be viewed only as negative from our finite perspective or they can be viewed through the lens that is looking for beauty. And, gasping, we find what we are looking for.


Wait with expectation. Persevere through the wounds, the tumbling, the irritations. The holes of life may well be filled with an infinite spectrum of colour. If we will just slow, and still, and see.

Ring the bells that still can ring. 
Forget your perfect offering. 
There is a crack in everything. 
That's how the light gets in.
- Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"


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