Posts Tagged With: light

The Light Gains Ground! (Ravens, Advent, & Mary Oliver)

TrainingCamp_GotGame_1440x900I’m a crazy happy Baltimore Ravens fan, and LOVE to see those games when the team turns a corner and starts to climb back into the competition. Things start to click, energy builds, anxiety lessens and hope rises. Players celebrate and you can feel the joy across the Ravens nation – on and off the field.

Well, we just turned a corner with Solstice, and light is gaining ground again in this part of the world. Every day hence, the sun will be a bit longer with us and days will extend. Though there will be snow and cold and darkness yet, the momentum has moved and light is beginning to win. Go Sun Nation!

It’s late Advent, and I come across this Mary Oliver poem (below) that celebrates the Sun. No accidents, I think. Post-Solstice is here with gradually lessening darkness and gradually increasing light; and so it seems fitting to share it.

SAMSUNGBesides, the Christ event that we will celebrate two nights hence is a HUGE Solstice moment that says that LIGHT, the SON, HOPE, JOY, PEACE, POSSIBILITY, GRACE saves all of us who stumble around in the dark. And nothing is ever the same since that stabled night that brought a stability beyond what any woman, man or child could have hoped. Since this moment, the whole game is changed. We are a people – a nation – of the Son. Things click, anxiety can lessen, celebration can commence, and all of life morphs into a pattern of death and resurrection begun in a Love that becomes poor and enters darkness that we might become rich and live in light.

So, celebrate with pleasure the warmth of this Son as you read Mary’s poem below. And by all means come empty handed, without distraction, and do the kind of praying that is most fitting for the Christian — stand in the warmth and receive the Love poured out and over and through you. God is a giving, a With, Love.  We are a receiving, an accompanied one, beloved children. It is as we live entirely receiving that we welcome the One who enters our world and each of our lives and hearts fully. Let go of what fills you, and come empty — you too may find joy in such poverty.

We’ve got game! The corner is turned. Welcome Light! Welcome Jesus to our world!

Light that enlightens us all, dwell with us this season. Open us to Your Presence in new and wondrous ways. Help us touch Your humility and poverty, Your vulnerability in flesh and newborn cries and snuggling. Help us hold You – and the truth of Light’s forever gained ground – tightly, yet lightly. Guide us. Transform us. Grant us a Christmas grace of Your choosing. Amen!


The Sun

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone –
and how it slides again

out of the blackness
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on it heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance –
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love –
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed –
or have you too
turned from this world –

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

from New and Selected Poems, Volume One, by Mary Oliver, 1992

Categories: Advent, Christmas, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stars Everywhere: Epiphany with Jessica Powers

On this day in a week begun with celebrating stars that guide through the darkness, I am intrigued by the relationship between light and dark and sight.  And so I google! Doesn’t everyone?  And I found what’s below on

“The bottom line is: without light, there would be no sight. The visual ability of humans and other animals is the result of the complex interaction of light, eyes and brain. We are able to see because light from an object can move through space and reach our eyes. Once light reaches our eyes, signals are sent to our brain, and our brain deciphers the information in order to detect the appearance, location and movement of the objects we are sighting at. The whole process, as complex as it is, would not be possible if it were not for the presence of light. Without light, there would be no sight.”

We humans need light to guide us.  We need light in order to cue our eyes and brain to see.  It is light which makes perception possible.

Perhaps this is obvious?  I do not think so.  We focus, of course, on what we bring in bodily equipment and our choice to open our eyes!  But light precedes us.  It even invites our bodies and our hearts to open.  And is that not an apt thought as we wander round Epiphany?

The Light, the Word, the One precedes us always.  Without this Light, there is no chance to see, no resulting experiments and play our brain can make, no creating of our own with shades and color.

It is the Star that speaks to the magi.  It precedes them, and leads them to an unlikely end – a manger, a family, a vulnerability that would not have been the human dream to match their hopes.

SAMSUNGIn Too Much Light

The Magi had one only star to follow,
a single sanctuary lamp hung low,
gold ornament in the astonished air.
I am confounded in this latter day;
I find stars everywhere.

Rumor locates the presence of a night
out past the loss of perishable sun
where, round midnight, I shall come to see
that all the stars are one.

I long for this night of the onement of the stars
when days of scattered shining are my lot
and my confusion. Yet faith even here
burns her throat dry, cries: on this very spot
of mornings, see, there is not any place
where the sought Word is not.
Under and over, in and out this morn
flawlessly, purely, wakes the newly born.
Behold, all places which have light in them
truly are Bethlehem.

                                                                                                                Jessica Powers, 1964

There is SO MUCH light – an excess, and stars everywhere to guide us.  There is “not any place where the sought Word is not”.  

In Psalm 119:105 we read that the Word is a lamp for our feet, a light for our path.  May we rejoice in the excess of this person who is Love, expressed in Light, that helps us see where we stand and guides us forward.  If we manage to wake now and then to what is all around us, we will be dazzled by the amount of light with us, within us, within each other.  Just remember that waking to it does not necessarily mean that you or I feel it, anymore than I feel the molecules of the air.  See what the light creates in you, in others… what growth, what we see because of it, what life emerges.  The very looking for the Light is Light’s own gift.  Trust the process.  There are stars everywhere for us to find.

Blessed Light!  May we let its truth reach into every corner of our hearts, our relationships, our world.


Categories: Christmas, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ Alive! Burst Into Explosive Songs of Joy!

Christ behind us in all our yesterdays.
Christ with us in our today.
Christ before us in all of our tomorrows.
Alpha and Omega, Christ, Lord of all!

Leap and spin, you powers of heaven!
Burst into explosive songs of joy,
all you companies of angels.
Let the throne of God be surrounded
with the praises of all that has life.

The earth glories in her Maker.
Now mountain and valley glow in splendor;
The sea on the shore whispers the praises of Jesus.

Rivers stream through thirsty soil,
bringing news of gladness –
the Redeemer is risen!
His glory fills the earth!
The trees thunder their praises,
And loudly clap their hands.

Sound a trumpet throughout all the earth.
Our Morning Star is alive!
Risen in splendor, He is among us;
the darkness is driven back.
We, His people, join in the dance of all creation.

[excerpt from Exultet in Celtic Daily Prayer, Northumbria Community]
And an Easter Prayer for you, friends/fellow journeyers/disciples:

May Christ alive, raised by His Abba,
give us peace and light in every darkness,
song and joy and dance that inspires us to see as He sees;

foolish exuberant wonder in the beauty of moments,
the extravagance of creation – in microcosm and macrocosm,
and a partnership in praise with creation’s voice.
May we grow – with grace – a committed humble love,

patterned on Christ’s,
that serves and celebrates;

committing to real presence

with those he would have us love as he loves us –
fragile, beautiful, frustrating, beautiful people –
the focus of Trinity-Love and deepest delight.

Christ alive, our love,
guide and tutor us.
But this Easter day, we dance!

Categories: Easter, General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lightning Bugs and Fireflies: Lessons from Tiny Light-Bearers

This time of year I am entranced with the lights behind our house that have signaled summer since I was a small child. Then we, the children in the row home neighborhood in Baltimore City where I grew up, would take our quart jars with punched holes in their metal lids, fill them with some grass in the bottom, and go catch lightnin’ bugs! It was a wonderful sport that stretched from twilight to full dark, or until our moms called us home. Akin to catching dandelion wishes in the spring, it always seemed to me that we were reaching for magic, and expected it to bless us.

Once a few lightning bugs were captured, we’d sit and look at our jars full of flashing lights. It didn’t take forever to notice that if you left them in there too long, despite our dads’ punched air holes, the magic flying bugs would die. And so, the end of any evening, when childhood’s scatteredness did not distract us into forgetting them for games of tag or hide and seek, included releasing them. I liked to do that one by one, carefully letting one crawl out on my hand (or shaking one there!) and then tossing it into the air and watching it grab the current and fly, at first a little crookedly, away. On nights when I forgot my jar for other entertainments, and it filled with largely deceased light-bearers in the morning, I mourned them. They deserved my care and attention, since they graced the night and were willing to be held however briefly in my own spell.

It’s June, and as they visit this time zone once more, my mind has rested lightly in awareness of them. I have done a little reading about them, to feed my relaxed attention. And I find the wonder is not diminished by the prose I find. There are possible learnings from these little visitors. Maybe a “Top 10 list” or a “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from Fireflies” kind of take? Perhaps my reflections are not that ambitious. But still, these are some thoughts these light bearers prompt, and perhaps some wisdom for our lives.

  • FIREFLIES IN LARVAL STAGE HIBERNATE IN WINTER, SOMETIMES FOR YEARS.  It is good for children – or all of us in moments of beginnings – to find safe places to rest as we grow.  Doing so will help us be all we can in maturity.  We need space, hiddenness, rest, in order to become.
  • LIGHTNING BUGS ARE BEETLES – YUK!  I can’t stand bugs, but I love these summer friends.  Even beetles can be beautiful.  And we too are beautiful, no matter, and precisely because of, the roots of our identity.
  • POTENTIAL PARTNER FIREFLIES ENGAGE IN A FLASHING COMMUNICATION THAT RANGES FROM A SINGLE FLASH TO MULTI-PHASE FLASHES TO A CONTINUOUS GLOW.  When we find people in life that we wish to spend more time with, we usually recognize something about the way they carry the light are and we are attracted.  Subsequently, our own light-bearing may change due to our relating.
  • FIREFLIES ARE NOCTURNAL.  I can’t resist.  YAY for night people!  (Mornings are for rest!)  More seriously, fireflies show up when their light will be most beautiful.  Imagine the moon during the day – it sometimes shows, but is lost in the sun’s bright upstaging.  The tiny flickering bugs know that context matters.  And so it does for us.  Where and when do we most shine in our brightest glory?  And living there may be the place from which we can best inspire, tutor, encourage, be the light we are!
  • LIGHTNING BUGS ARE DISTASTEFUL AND SOMETIMES POISONOUS TO PREDATORS.  Sometimes the ‘perfume’ we put out just be being true to who we are is enough to bat back those who would be destructive to us…  we simply need to be more and more of who we are.  Psalm 37 puts it, “Be not vexed, it will only harm you.” What trouble will come, will come.  To our own makeup, our Creator’s design – to this we must be true.  The rest is about living light, and trust.
  • LIGHTNING BUGS’ LIGHT IS BIOLUMINSCENT.  Their lighting up is built into their very biology, and is no technique.  We are created to be bioluminescent too.  Our very being bears light.  This is true for all of us.  An interesting more physical reflection – how do our bodies do this?  How do we recover, in a society both increasingly health conscious and increasingly ill in preventable ways, a sense of being embodied in a ‘light’ way?  Where do we find the energy to allow our bodies to teach us how they too can shine?
  • FIREFLY LIGHT IS THE MOST EFFICIENT LIGHT IN THE WORLD.  100% of the energy is emitted as light (fyi: incandescent bulbs are at 10% with the rest as heat, fluorescent at 90%).  Here we may find a two way invitation – to integrity and commitment.  Be only and all what and who you are, and give all when you give.  These two ways of being will produce wonderful light for you and the world.
  • LIGHT POLLUTION CAN DECIMATE LIGHTNING BUGS.  Lightning bugs use light to communicate, and this light must be seen by potential mates.  When they are in settings where their light doesn’t show up – well, it’s not good.  There are ‘givens’ that must be in place for communication, and overwhelming extremes in our environment are destructive.  Perhaps we need to think about the various pollution around us – light, noise, ‘stuff’, clutter, arguments, polarizing statements.  You name more!  How does it affect our communicating, our relationships?  What do we need to be free of to grow?  We can turn out our backyard lights to help the lightning bugs.  What needs turning down or off in our contemporary world?  In your life and mine?
  • FIREFLIES NEED GENTLE HANDLING.  If you and I, or our children, go out to catch fireflies these nights, we need to remember to do it gently.  Whether we use hands or a net, damage can easily be done through thoughtless grasping or handling.  People – you and I, those we love, those we disagree with or find most annoying, the strong, the weak, the poor, the rich, the opponent and the colleague – all need gentle handling.  Life is difficult, and the ways each person experiences this difficulty are wide and varied.  We never know what is happening with – or within – another.  TLC is a good maxim.  Be tender:  be caring:  treat lovingly.  Gentleness is a strength in relationships and community building.

These are just samples of the lessons that may come from our lightning bugs, the tiny light-bearers.  They can tutor us, and have been tutor and inspiration for others over time.  Sources note that the Aztecs used the word firefly to mean a spark of knowledge in a world of ignorance or darkness.  In Japanese culture, fireflies contain the souls of soldiers who have died in battle, and lanterns are filled with them.  The Chinese believed they came from burning grass – these sparks of life.  The Ancient Mayans believed that fireflies carried the light of stars.  Ah, that one is a favorite of mine!

I invite you to join me in just being with fireflies or lightning bugs this June, if you can find them near you.  If not, find some online!  The gazing they prompt, if you just sit still, is contemplative.  There is a mantra effect to watching the lights flicker, and perhaps looking overhead at the stars.  Don’t miss their magic.

As a child, I chased them to capture them and hold them.  As a woman, long now, I watch and let them help me come to quiet and BEing in the night.  May they be a compline prayer for you, a primer for living, a reminder of truth.  And this deeper magic is a holy mystery in the ordinary, in creation… the place our Creator meets us so often.

May we meet, you and I, somehow – somewhere – someday, as light-bearers too!

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Leap and Spin!

The invitation to Leap and Spin feels utterly appropriate this morning. And so I share words once more from the Northumbria Community’s resource. May you experience as well as believe that darkness is driven back. May you leap and spin! May you dance with creation!  Alleluia – Lumen Christi!

Blessings one and all! – Joanne

Leap and spin, you powers of heaven.
Burst into explosive songs of joy,
all you companies of angels.
Let the throne of God be surrounded
with the praises of all that has life.

The earth glories in her Maker.
Now mountain and valley glow in splendour;
the sea on the shore whispers the praises of Jesus.

Rivers stream through thirsty soil,
bringing news of gladness –
the Redeemer is risen. His glory fills the earth.
The trees thunder their praises,
and loudly clap their hands.

Sound a trumpet through all the earth.
Our Morning Star is alive!
Risen in splendour, He is among us;
the darkness is driven back.
We, His people, join in the dance of all creation.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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