The Tangled Lights

Each morning their bright silent colors, red, green, yellow, gold send out a reflection through the window to hover over the river below—those lights on my tree. And I sit still, somewhere deep inside a hidden cavern in my heart, where only the darkness would dare display the soft splattering of their quiet awe. Yet, with each breath I feel a pause, a kind of ache desperately trying to patch up, hold back, stop the sorrow steadily seeping through the tiny crevasses. That sorrow all tangled up now with the unspoiled wonder of those lights. Now one and the same.

I imagine so many of our sisters and brothers lying helpless in those hospital gowns that don’t quite cover their knees, sinking in the quicksand of despair, reaching out with limp fingers for the only thing that matters now—the touch of a loved one. And, I see the heroic caregivers, pushing through, again and again, the rock heavy weight of fatigue and praying now for that last cup of coffee to be the elixir of an unseen hope—a hope that can transmute a war–weary arm to reach back and touch the hope–filled limp fingers. To be the only love left for a dying heart. Again and again.

Yet, the tangled lights shine on.

I’m standing across the corner from a homeless man I saw yesterday. I find myself wondering what’s in his small backpack. Maybe an extra soiled shirt or pair of pants, maybe one of those five–and–dime black combs, maybe even an old toothbrush or just maybe one of those small bars of soap something like the fancy places give out for free. Suddenly, I have a flash of him getting on the school bus with a similar backpack only this time it’s filled with hope for an unknown future. And the sorrow seeps through the tiny crevasses.

Yet, the tangled lights shine on.

I think of the children. The ones who are too young to know, and yet know, that their tiny world, as they know it is about to come to an end. The moms and dads who know there’s not enough extra food to leave carrots for the reindeer this year, or cookies for Santa, or, worst of all, for the presents that Santa always leaves in return. I can imagine moms and dads crying and tossing through sleepless nights only to wake and try to put on a hopeful face for the little ones looking up in unmasked innocence, an innocence tinged now with a mixture of excitement for Santa and confusion as to why mom and dad are so sad and short–tempered. And why, sometimes, they hug a little too tight.  

And still the tangled lights shine on.

Many are speaking of these times as being necessary for the evolution of planetary consciousness. I don’t disagree. Yet, in this holy season, with my heart laid bare by the enormity of suffering, I find myself turning instead to the light that shines the wonder just beyond the purview of such lofty thoughts. I stand with my Jewish brothers and sisters as they light the menorah for the Festival of Lights celebrating the time when a lantern with only enough oil for one night shown for eight. And I remember that miracles are possible. I stand with Christians who are celebrating the miracle birth of the Christ child, the one who came to remind us that we are each the light of the world. And I remember that means me, us, too.   

So, I wake in the morning to sit in that silent cavern of my heart where I find the dying, the caregivers, the homeless, the children and parents. I sit unmoving with the seeping sorrow. And I know that I am the reaching hand, the elixir of a quiet response. I am the one on the corner with a backpack filled now only with lost dreams. I am the mom willing to give it all for just the smallest gift for my child under the tree on Christmas morning. And I am the child who too easily grabs on tight to that smothering hug.

And as I sit, tangled in the sorrow and awe, I also watch the reflection of those lights lost in that unspoiled wonder, undisturbed, and I am brought to a love only my deepest yearning can recognize. A love that fully feels and knows that I am one with all my sisters and brothers. That their pain is my pain. There despair, my despair. And, their faith is mine. Their hope also. And, somewhere in the still, unwavering, glow of those lights, I remember it is only this love that can spark the eternal light already alive within me. It is only this love that can cause me to truly see the silent wonder right there in front of me, right there in the middle of all the despair, right there looking back at me through the eyes of my sisters and brothers.

And, remembering, suddenly those tiny crevasses split and crack open and a torrent of this love spills out of me . . .

As the tangled lights shine on.  

9 Comments

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9 responses to “The Tangled Lights

  1. susanpcass

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written noticing of life around you!
    It is with eyes of depth and compassion that you see what most others would miss. I am grateful there are eyes and hearts like yours that shine in the darkness of collective suffering.

  2. Carolyn Tobin

    Thank you dearest Stephanie for this beautiful piece. It broke my heart, brought me to tears and comforted me too. I am so grateful for you.

  3. Ahjan

    That is a beautiful piece of writing, leaching through to the fissures of my own heart! Perhaps reading this following our Spiritual Practice was the best time to sit with this, as I am both empty and full! Kosi revayah! Extraordinary remembrance. Thank you for bringing the spirit of the lights, tangles and all!

  4. Ilona Kwiecien

    If our hearts were not touched by all the sorrow…what would we be each morrow?
    If we did not see the glimmer of light – the hope – but only the slippery slope…Nope! Beloved, let us see!

    Very nice, Stephanie…and helpful to know we are not alone in feeling the pain.

    • Ahjan

      “Beloved, let us see!” Thank you for allowing your muses to share, as well!

    • Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt

      Thank you Ilona for adding your voice and always inspired words to the conversation…may we, indeed, always truly “see” and land where the human sorrow and the glow of those eternal lights intersect…

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