Advent Journal: Light

(Scott Erickson’s Honest Advent is an excellent read and a good resource for this season – and it’s not too late to order one for your own Advent journey.)

COVID forced us to rethink home work spaces. I’d sacrificed my small study area to give my youngest son some studio space; he’d returned home from college, began taking local classes, and needed room to create things like a three-foot square drawing of Johnny Cash. As we began to seriously work from home, I found myself in Zoom meetings while at the kitchen table, on the front porch, on the bedroom floor – all over the house. Finally, I broke down, bought a small desk online, and made a corner of the kitchen into my office nook.

There’s a small LED wand light that sat in an extra bedroom – I put it to good use over my desk. However, there’s an interesting challenge to this light: When I’m writing, the brightnesss of the six small bulbs cast shadows on the paper – creating an impossible situation. When the light shines directly on the focal point, I can’t see to write.

Fortunately, it’s an easy fix: I redirect the light source to the wall. Ambient illumination allows me to see without shadows. When I am reading, or working on my laptop, I twist the wand to aim the lights at the point of interest.

Erickson writes of light with a scriptural prompt:

The Word [Jesus] gave light to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. (John 1: 4, NLT)

In my earlier years, I envisioned this metaphor as a blazing fire – something big and glorious and undeniable, calling attention to itself, demanding acquiescence. But recently, I’ve come to recognize and affirm the way that light moves to illuminate things in a more subtle way. Erickson nails it for me, when he writes:

Who we are is deeper than where we find ourselves in this moment. And Jesus illuminates that deeper identity….Put simply, the function of light is to help us see more clearly. Jesus’ life helps us see our own lives more clearly.

Scott Erickson, Honest Advent

I approach Advent this year with a different perspective on the subject of Jesus; I’ve spent a few months focusing on the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible). As someone who is a Christian – a “little Christ”, following Jesus – I felt compelled to lean more into the life and times of Jesus himself. So I’ve read – and reread – the Gospels consistently, exclusively. And my understanding of this light that brings life to everyone continues to deepen and shift and change and grow and bubble up. Jesus said, “I came to give life with joy and abundance.” (John 10:10, The Voice), and I can testify that hanging out with HIS story brings more of that joy and abundance to the surface of my own life.

The writings of Richard Rohr have had a profound influence on my spiritual life in recent years. Erickson quotes him in this chapter:

“The physical world is the doorway to the spiritual world.”

Light shining in darkness, creating or illuminating shadows – that’s a fine metaphor for Something mysterious, sacred, and true illuminating my current reality.

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