I’ve been spending time this Advent truly preparing for the light. Making space in my heart for what openings come with new birth. It’s been two years since I had this practice. Last year I was treading water in Europe, redefining my life without a bigger-than-life mission—I was still shaping my more life-sized calling. The one where I am home every day after school, and the one where I live in a culture that doesn’t really accept me, a place where I struggled to meet people I could inquire about more than the passing of their day. I believed the light was coming last year, and it did in its own subtle way--more like a lantern on someone’s distant porch on a foggy night than a beam straight to my heart.
This year as I settle back into the community I love, and yet another seemingly larger-than-possible mission, I’ve carved out a little space to watch and wait. To open parts of myself even when their hinges seem rusty, and the movement comes in shaky, creaky ways.
Our national rhetoric has largely turned to one of whining despair at what we cannot control—this happens on both sides of the aisle, I find no particular fault here. It has echoes though, of what we all are often called to ask: what would I have done if I lived during the civil rights movement, during the Nazi occupation, during slavery, when Mary came knocking looking for a place to give birth? These questions are worthy, but really should only be used to inspire our actions today.
My light this season is in searching for glimmers of pathways to heal those issues even in small ways, for those issues are alive today. In the darkened eyes of the man who asked me for a little money on my walk to work, alive in the children who sleep on the floor of the child services building awaiting someone to welcome them in, they are alive in the way we imagine our communities coming to vibrancy in new ways, and in the ways we hold even the most simple discussions with those who do not agree with us. They are alive in the way we wrap a child who is acting perfectly unlovably in the embrace of our love, and in the way we allow these experiences to shape us.
Now that we are back in America, and I’ve been swept into “busy” again, I’ve promised myself not to take up it’s torch. Not to get too busy to walk down the street looking at my phone, to instead look into people’s eyes. To take my dog downtown, and when that lonely, most likely addicted person asks to pet him, to stop and let him take all the time he needs to pet, to embrace and to feel the unconditional love he likely hasn’t felt in quite some time. To host conversations around my dinner table that are hard, with people who think very differently than I do. That is where I can show up this year to find the light, and the surprising faces of God in our midst.
Dorothy Day reflects “If everyone were holy and handsome, with alter Christus shining in neon lighting from them, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone…that is not Christ’s way for himself now when he is disguised under every type of humanity that treads the earth.”
This Christmas I’m spending some time making space for the light, and creating pathways for it to shine through me. Whether you are Christian or Atheist, Jewish or Muslim, or simply finding your way to the kindest life you can have-- I wish you the light of the season on this Solstice. May it light up your heart, and may you share it with someone who needs it this year.