Thursday, March 2, 2017

Darkness to Light



My Lenten Devotion

… because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 1 John 2:8b



The year following my husband’s death was full of activity, but shrouded in fog. I was alone now. It was up to me to fulfill the plans we had already made. I sold our home, bought another one close to my mother, and orchestrated my move from Pennsylvania to Michigan. I seemed to be doing everything right as I joined and became involved in church and jumped into community activities. Staying busy kept the darkness at bay. I knew in my head and in my heart that God was still with me, but I couldn’t feel His presence as I had before.

Then, about a year later, driving up the hill toward my new home in the late afternoon, I was struck by the panorama spread out in front of me. The sky seemed to be exploding with fluffy, silver rimmed clouds. I pulled over to watch as the clouds moved past, slowly revealing the bright light of the sun that had been there all along.

Be still and know that I am God. I closed my eyes and felt God’s light in my heart as warm as that sun in the sky. It had been there all along, of course. I had let the clouds of worry and grief and busyness block it. I needed the vision of sun and clouds to remind me that, while I had been trying to figure out and create my new life, He was there, even when I couldn’t see Him clearly, guiding and helping me all along the way, and ready to give me back the joy of his presence as soon as I could quiet myself enough to accept it.

Thank you, Lord, for your Light that can pierce every darkness.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas Presence, Still Good at Epiphany


A few Christmas memories center on presents.

The one when my father gave me a ceramic dog in a house. When you whistled, the dog came out. But I couldn’t whistle.

The one when I recognized my mother’s handwriting on a note from Santa to my younger sister, and got in a world of trouble for telling her.

There were many other times, of course, when the crushing disappointment of childish expectations made Christmas presents a bittersweet memory.

Then there was the Christmas when my step-father, with whom I could never form a close relationship, convinced Santa to give me a typewriter, which I knew we couldn’t afford, because he knew how much I wanted to be a writer. I think I may have received my first whiff of Christmas Presence that year.

A highlight of my early teens was a year when I was old enough to know how much we didn’t have. My mother wanted us to understand that there were others with even less, and she wanted to teach us the joy of giving. We put together two boxes of clothing and toys we no longer needed and left them on the doorstep of a family who lived in a ramshackle house a mile or so away.

A few weeks later, I saw a girl from that family wearing one of the favorite matching dresses my mother had made for my sister and me years before. I hoped the girl didn’t know where it had come from. I was afraid it would embarrass her. I thought at the time that the feeling I got knowing we had added to that’s family’s joy was the true Christmas Presence.

As the years went by, I found more incidents of heart-warming experiences that I thought better examples of the Christmas Presence: caroling by candlelight, Christmas Eve midnight services, Christmas Cantatas. Music and fellowship, the spirit of Christ flowing over and around us; the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

But what I finally discovered was that for me the Christmas Presence wasn’t limited to a few short weeks in December and January. We celebrate the time of birth, and it is special, but the Presence Christ brought to earth that day is with us all year long. It illuminates our hearts and gives us the desire to share his love and give “presents” to everyone, not just at Christmas time, but all the time.