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The Light Show

Dear friends, 

Last Saturday night there was a power outage in much of Concord, including both my home and the parish.  We scrambled to find all the flashlights and lanterns in the house, cooked dinner outside on the grill, and I fretted about needing to stay up late trying to get a generator working to keep the refrigerator going, and wondered if all of our parish video streaming apparatus would be all right in the morning.   Eventually the power came back on, thanks to the endeavors of the light plant, and all was well.   But it has been a strange few weeks for light and darkness – as not too long ago we were all seeking dark locales to try to see the Northern Lights, aglow from an uncommon number of solar flares of uncommon strength, and we actually did manage to drive about and record this phenomenon on our cell phones (which are more sensitive than our eyes in this case).  Every few weeks, it seems, new findings emerge about black holes, which consume light, but creating light rings around them as glowing mass is accelerated toward the infinite gravity of the black hole from which light itself can not emerge.  Black holes seem to be found in more and more parts of the universe, even in our galaxy, creating the gravitational swirls throughout the universe that we call galaxies.  Black holes collide and consume one another, and may herald adjacent universes and dimensions that we can imagine more than we can measure. 


 Maybe the aurora is just plasma streams from the sun stimulating our ionosphere and lighting things up, and maybe black holes are just a lot of mass and gravity gone wild, but still, their very presence is to our yet animal eyes, mystery.  To say it differently, I challenge you to look at the Northern Lights and remain analytical.

Now, I confess that when I am stressed, when there is no power, when I can’t find the flashlights, and I find myself driving in my car, owing to a surprising amount of time in my life being spent in Nashville, I listen to country music.  Maybe it touches some of a mountain ethic from growing up in Pennsylvania, but recently I have noticed a song written by one Jelly Roll (aka Jason DeFord) and sung with Lainey Wilson, and Jelly Roll has had a difficult life, and, I think, climbed up from that through deep faith.  God bless the man.   But the lyrics to his song, “Save me”, include these lines:

 Somebody save me, me from myself

I’ve spent so long living in Hell

They say my lifestyle is bad for my health

It’s the only thing that seems to help

All of this drinkin’ and smokin’ is hopeless

But I feel like it’s all that I need

Somethin’ inside of me’s broken

I hold on to anything that sets me free

I’m a lost cause

Baby, don’t waste your time on me

I’m so damaged beyond repair

Life has shattered my hopes and my dreams”

I think that at some time in our lives all of us have felt or will feel that life has shattered our hopes and our dreams, and perhaps that we’re not worth wasting time on.  That can be the response to trauma, to life changes, to addiction, or to loss.

The Song of Zechariah says this:

“Through the tender mercies of our Lord, the dawn from high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

And so the greatest mystery of all is that when we find ourselves disappearing in black holes of despair, when we can’t find the flashlights in our darkness, there can be a light, the crack of hope dawning, and the same creator God, or in the Greek, Patera Pantokratora, that holds the glowing skies and gravitational majesties and the very stars, also grants the light of Christ, to come into our small lives, to raise us up, to heal our damage, to affirm our worth, and then, by the small lights of our flashlight souls, we seek our hopes and our dreams. 





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