• lenten journal: light

    by  • March 8, 2015 • Uncategorized • 3 Comments

    Today was Youth and Children’s Sunday at our church, which meant the children were our worship leaders. One of them, who reads quite regularly in worship, stood up to lead us in our call to worship.

    Leader: We have seen the light of God
    People: on high mountains of celebration and in the laughter of children.
    Leader: We have seen the light of God
    People: through the shadows of our sadness and fears.
    Leader: We have seen the light of God
    People: with eyes that have been covered, with eyes that have been opened, with eyes that have been blinded.
    All: We have seen the light of God.

    Light. When we use the word as a noun we’re talking about what makes things visible, a source of illumination, understanding. (Cue Hank Williams.) When we use the word as a verb it can mean illuminating or igniting. When we use it as an adjective it means of little weight, delicate, or gentle.

    We have seen the light of God: illumination, igniting Spirit, lighter load.

    Last night Ginger and I went to hear John David Souther sing at Duke. Many of the songs he has written are a part of the soundtrack of my life, thanks to the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt in particular. I saw him a couple of years ago in a much smaller venue in Carrboro and he sang a song I didn’t know that I hoped he would reprise last night, but he didn’t. It’s called “Little Victories.”

    when I look up the sky is falling
    the signs of warning clearly drawn
    ao many of us here are drifting out to sea
    keep my head down to go on

    little victories
    I think you need one
    little victories

    in my hometown and family circles
    they seem unsure and un-empowered
    oh, they don’t understand and you can’t help that
    though you can love so hard, that never comes back
    till you just can’t take it for one more hour

    little victories
    you need to win one
    little victories

    I know it hurt sometimes to look around
    the sameness of it beats you down
    and the best seems all behind
    before you start

    little victories
    you need to win some
    little victories of the heart

    now as we face our uncertain future
    looking on uncharted seas
    we see the tear that runs along the curtain
    you step right through, you stand with me

    little victories
    you need to win some
    little victories

    though it hurt sometimes to look around
    blindness only keeps you down
    the best may lie beyond this present part
    the sky they open, the waters part

    little victories
    you need to win some
    little victories of the heart

    The song came to mind because of a response to my post on peace that came through another social media platform. A friend had shared the post and then sent me a note asking if I had seen one of the comments on it. Someone had responded with a great deal of force: “This is a lovely sentiment. But we are faced with enemies who are relentlessly savage and barbaric. Therefore, to attain peace, we must kill them without mercy before they devour the civilized world. Then we can indulge in philosophy.”

    It hooked me. I wanted to write back and correct them. I wanted to show them that violence as a response to violence has never proven to be a permanent solution. I wanted to make sure they understood I wasn’t merely philosophizing. I was looking for action. And I did write something like that, but she was undeterred. In the mean time, my friend sent me a message to say the one making the comment had had a parent die only four days before. Though I still didn’t agree with her, I read her words in a different—well—light. I remembered what it felt like in the days immediately after Dad died. One of the things that made anger rise up in me was people saying, “I’m sorry for your loss.” They weren’t doing anything wrong. They meant well. They loved me and were trying to let me know. But the words hooked me. I wanted to say, “He isn’t lost; he’s dead,” not because I needed to correct them (I figured out much later), but because I was still coming to terms with him not being here.

    What I came to wish for the person who had written the comment had less to do with understanding my position than it did with finding a way to lighten the load, to share their grief. Since they didn’t even know I was privy to the story, I had no way to respond, other than to take in the illumination, to learn, and to not make any more comments in the thread.

    I do wish I could have sent her the song.



    Blogging since December 2005


    3 Responses to lenten journal: light

    1. March 8, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Thank you for this wisdom and for this song. It is new to me, and it is rich with hope.

    2. March 8, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      All the “little victories” are milestones in our life’s journey. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with all of us.

    3. March 9, 2015 at 9:01 am

      Oh goodness, her rage came sweeping through, didn’t it? And the first thing out of someone’s mouth is seldom what they are really feeling. Thank you for pointing that out to us.

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