Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The People Who Have Walked in Darkness

The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
   on them light has shined. 

These are the words that open the Isaiah we hear at Christmas, and they are words that speak to me and maybe some others at this time of year.  This has been a year of difficulty for me with my mom's massive stroke during Holy Week, the unplanned trips to New Hampshire, the wondering and worrying as I received messages from my brothers about her care (or lack thereof) at The Laurel Center in Bedford.  My mom, the Anonymous Peggins also known to friends as "Hurricane Peg," is back in the hospital, this time with an infected and swollen salivary gland.  Not the best Christmas gift in the world, but at least she's not at the Laurel Center.

Amidst that family drama has come my own personal struggles and realization that I must respond to where I feel God calling me to go.  The question that was so loudly ringing in my ears in February in Tifton, GA--"Am I willing to lay down Florida to follow Christ?"--coupled with another moment in front of the Christ on the cross at Sewanee in August, heavily-sighing with weariness from listening to my fears, doubts, pleas, and trashing of my self and finally putting into my head the imperative to, "Let. It. Go!" were the none-too-gentle shoves in the back to get me going.   So, as I ponder these words of the prophet, I know that I am one who has been walking in darkness, and today, I can say that, "Yes, I have seen a great light."   

These weeks of Advent that have led up to this day have been preparing me for what is about to come: a new birth of Christ in me.  The term "born again" has such horrible and negative associations with it, especially for LGBTQI people,  that I don't use it.  And I don't know that I am a totally different person because I don't feel totally different than before.  But I have had to look at myself, and have been called out for some of those things that I "ought to have done" as well as those deeds I "ought not to have done."  I'm grateful for the hard lessons of life because I think it is through those trials and tribulations that we become wiser and stronger.  The wisdom and strength gained can translate into a feeling of rebirth.  That is how I have been feeling today and that sense of having arrived at a new place in my life's journey.  Thus, it was easy today to smile at total strangers in the Publix supermarket and feel a sense of joy springing up within me.  It is like having the heart of stone removed from my chest and replacing it with a heart of flesh, a new heart beating with happiness.

My hope for all the people who have been experiencing some level of darkness is that on this night, which for those of us who are Christians is one of the holiest nights of the year, the light that is still shining on the inside becomes like a glowing beacon to touch others.  Know that this is the light of truth planted in each of us at the start of our days.  No matter how bright or dim this light may seem, it is still--really and truly--a great light...linked to the Northern star that leads us on a path toward Love, mercy, justice and kindness.  On this holy night, let this light be the focus.  Treat it with kindness and tenderness.  This is the light of Christ that lives on in you and me.  This is the hope for us and for a hurting and cynical world.  Shine on! Shine on! Shine on!

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