In February the sun came out after a long month of gray skies and no shadow. Light flashed into our house with the subtlety of the tongues of flame falling on the disciples at Pentecost, maybe even with some power to cleanse, to remind us of what Paul said to the Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ'” (2 Cor. 4: 6).
This is the season of Epiphany, a celebration of light. The word makes me think of the cartoon light bulbs that pop on over someone’s head, when they finally see the truth. And maybe the light the prophets talked about: “Arise, Shine for your light has come,” is not just a metaphor for God but the actual light we see slapped up against our walls and fields and trees and roads.
I wonder if the Spirit is moving even though it is not His/Her season. We have Lent and Easter to chug through first. But the Spirit moves like the wind, the word ruach translated from a word that means breath and wind both, unpredictable and wild. Maybe the Spirit is whirling across our fields like the tongues of flame at Pentecost. The New Age and Christian prophets seem to say that change is coming, big change. For good or ill, they say, they aren’t sure. Maybe the Spirit will settle over our heads like this orange flame from a sunset settled over a over a chair I gave Bruce’s mom because she admired the inlay. I gave it to her with a wrecked seat, a gift that probably felt way off to her. Quietly she had it reupholstered. We brought it back to our home after she died. And maybe neighbor can make peace with neighbor like we did with his mom, a peace coming out of an estrangement as ugly and silent as anything, the peace as much a miracle as anything I’ve seen.
When the sun finally rose with no cloud cover, I was startled to see the dogs’ shadows trotting along the ditch with my shadow stretched long. We even saw our moon shadows after chores. I was stepping out of the barn just as Bruce was walking around the manure pile with Night and Little Dog. Night yanked the leash, Bruce dropped it and Night ran over to me. Our shadows were bright even though the moon was only half full.
Venus has moved from low on the horizon, looking like a jet making its approach to O’Hare, to soaring in between our trees. When it was low, I’d stop and watch it move because I thought it was a jet, but it never did move like a jet, though my desire, made it seem to sweep closer to where I was standing. Lately I’ve been watching it move through our blinds, slowly, gracefully, dropping down across slats, not unlike the sun and moon when they come close to the horizon. In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis says, “For if we take the imagery of scripture seriously, if we believe that one day God will give us the Morning Star, and cause us to put on the splendor of the sun, then we may surmise that the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.”
One day Bruce made a fire in the stove and the sunset flashed into our house, right up our stove pipe, pointing to glory, the kind of glory C.S. Lewis says we wish we could drape over our shoulders, get right back inside and shine. C.S. Lewis says in The Weight of Glory, “We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”I think of the prophet who says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” And the song I sang in childhood about conversion, “Oh what a wonderful, wonderful day, day I will never forget…Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.” And think now maybe C.S. Lewis is wrong. Maybe the beauty does drop down on us, maybe the Spirit does move through us, and light shines. We just don’t know it. Yet.
In the morning I saw lovely, silver light the shape of our stairwell spindles and flash into our stairwell from the door. The dogs and Bruce stood for my pictures. To be honest having a camera in my pocket has helped me see the beauty of light on my walls, and light sinking into the horizon if I didn’t have a way to remember them by holding them still in my pictures. And it was Laura Brown last year who showed me how to see these plates and platters of light by the pictures she shared on Facebook. (Here’s a link to her book, Everything that Makes You Mom.)
I wrote about this last year, but the light seems to be showing up in different places, different patterns, maybe because the sun is coming out at a different time this year, throwing different angles, totally beautiful, light itself showing paradox, like parallel train tracks meeting in the distance, or spirituality that nudges, whispering, “It’s not either/or but both/and”–particles and waves of blessing smearing our walls.