Friday, February 20, 2015

Black and white and gray all over


Today I walked around my house for a few minutes literally asking the question, "What does the light want to show me?"  I know, it's a little weird. I get that, but I need the discipline of this little exercise. I see subjects where I need to learn to see sources.

So here was today's answer. My boys were playing chess last night, as is often the case, and they left the board like this on the floor in front of the window. So backlight. And patterns. And contrast.

I've noticed that as I age, where I used to see black and white, I now see way more gray. At the same time, it seems, we live in an increasingly polarized society, where grayness is precarious.

Yesterday, I stuck my neck out on Facebook. People are asking questions in the aftermath of the ISIS killings of Egyptian Christians, wondering if Islam is really as peaceful as it claims, citing evidence to the contrary.  The question was asked by a truly kind-hearted soul. I said I thought the same could be asked about Christianity (and in fact that is also the case on my newsfeed), with evidence cited. I said we can ask the question of the other and look for evidence in our favor--but that for me it's a 24/7 job just trying to BE the evidence in favor of my faith. A couple of people were bothered by my lack of concern for our "security". I decided not to stir the pot there, but I find myself wondering, "What difference does it make?" Not in a rhetorical way. Not in a fatalistic way. In a practical way.

If, indeed, "they" are warlike, where "we" are peaceful, how should we then live? Does vigilance help us want to go to the places down the road where our Muslim sisters in this family of humanity live and learn what Sharia Law means to them? Because if not, I am trying to figure out how it's helpful.

As I looked at the chess pieces, I thought of this quote from the apostle Peter's first letter to believers suffering persecution for their faith:

"For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit." (1 Peter 3:18)

There is only the righteous (God) and the unrighteous (humans--ALL humans) in this equation. And God's once and for all response was to build a bridge.  "To bring you to God." Period.

I love how The Message renders Peter's words a little earlier in the passage:

"Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless--that's your job, to bless.  You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Light Reflections


Winter is dark here on the tundra.
This week, thankfully, we have turned a corner.
We are waking up in the light.
Just a tiny bit, but light, nevertheless.


This morning I noticed the light on these delicate pink calla lilies from my Valentine.


A question popped into my head that good photographers probably ask every day:

What does the light want to show me?


It was painting the edges of this one.


I noticed it bouncing off the lines of the white chair in the background.


Then I saw this brightest blossom facing away from the others,
and I thought it just might be dancing.


It's Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent,
the season of reflection before Easter.


Lent is meant to make you look a little closer.
This article described it this way:
"This is what Lent does.  It allows us to see the parts of ourselves we'd rather leave covered up.
It asks us to drag our full self into the light of day, no matter how dark it may be."

Of course the light exposes everything,
without regard to the condition of the subject.
It simply tells the truth.

The depths of my heart are scarcely as pristine as these flowers;
there are messes to be explored and dealt with.
But I think there is some beauty to be uncovered there as well.


So that's going to be my Lenten question:
What does the Light want to show me?


I hope to ask it, ponder it a little every day.
To respond with praise
with confession
with thanksgiving
with availability
with prayer for God's help and strength.


"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 Corinthians 4:6