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Shine Light shine

By Jim Hannah

 

Matthew 5:14-16

John 14: 12, 15-17

                            

I want to begin with a poem by Jan Richardson…

I cannot tell you how the light comes.

                            What I know is that it is more ancient than imagining.

                            That it travels across an astounding expanse to reach us.

                            That it loves searching out what is hidden,

                            what is lost, what is forgotten or in peril or in pain.

                            That it has a fondness for the body,

                             for finding its way towards flesh,

                             for tracing the edges of form,

                            for shining through the eye, the hand, the heart.

                            I cannot tell you how the light comes,

                            but that it does. That it will.

                            That it works its way into the deepest dark that enfolds you,

                            though it may seem long in coming

                            or arrive in a shape you did not foresee.

                            And so may we this day turn ourselves toward it.

                            May we lift our faces to let it find us.

                            May we bend our bodies to follow the arc it makes.

                            May we open and open more and open still

                             to the blessed light that comes.

 

This Light, this Spirit, this Love is, it seems to me, the purpose of the universe, bending always towards more light, more love. Looking at the world today it may be hard to see that but still I believe this is what we are called to be about – love making which always brings more light into every place it manifests. I think we in the western world have lost touch with that notion in our day-to-day lives.

 

A tiny book was published in 1996 by author Sylvia Boorstein. The title, “Don’t Just Do Something…Sit There.” We are very good at doing things, often having more on our daily plates than we can even manage. But all the doing isn’t enough to make us shine in life. It is in how well we love ourselves, each other and all of creation that brings the light. The storybook I read called “The Simple People” is a wonderful metaphor for what happens when we are so focused on doing things that we lose sight of what actually gives us life – the simple act of presence.

 

Just imagine if at the end of the day the question wasn’t “what did you do today?” but was instead “where did you experience love today?”

 

 There’s a Light      Jim Hannah©1996

 

Every breath I take, reminds me of this life I live,

And each choice I make, my living soul becomes.

Every path I walk, creates the moments I can be,

There with open heart, a place for everyone.

 

              There’s a light – burning ever bright,

              There inside your heart, warming every part.

              There’s a light – shining in the night,

              Showing me the way, to make a better day.

 

Every place I go, reminds me there’s so much that’s wrong,

And each time I know, there’s more than I can do.

Every turn I choose, can give me ways to hope again,

There with open heart, a place for me and you.

 

Jesus got it. He understood that Great Love was the way to a more peaceful and just world. Jim Strathdee’s song captures this Jesus perfectly. “I am the light of the world. You people come and follow me. If you follow and love, you’ll learn the mystery of what you are meant to do and be.” Jesus never asked to be worshipped. He wanted to be imitated, knowing that every single human being has the capacity for great love and each in their own way can bring light to the world. He told everyone who would listen to let their own light shine for all the world to see. He knew there was a spirit at work with the power to transform lives and build compassionate communities and peace seeking empires. And he showed us how to do it - by simply being a loving presence in the moments of our lives. In the first decades after his death this is what happened.

 

Love demonstrated by the followers, a love that was inclusive of everyone, grew so large that the Roman empire tried to stop it. When they realized that crucifying and feeding to the lions wasn’t slowing them down the empire decided to absorb the movement instead. And within a few more decades the “look-through-thing” of love was turned into walls of oppression. But the Spirit can’t be stopped! Thousands of years later the spirit of love is still at work.

 

      It’s The Love     Jim Hannah©2024

 

There’s a spirit working harder than it ever has before.

There’s a spirit breaking walls down, op’ning every door.

There’s a spirit trying to create a new and blessed day.

Can’t be stopped, there’s no denying, it will find a way!

 

              It’s the love that is within us that brings light to every day.

              It’s the love for one another that brings light to show the way.

              It’s the love for all creation that brings light to every place.

              Realized in every single shining face…

 

There’s a spirit quite determined to set the whole world right.

There’s a spirit turning dark days into days of light.

There’s a spirit that won’t give up hope and never will give in.

Can’t be stopped, there’s no denying, love will always win!

There’s a spirit and we know it, calling us to do our part.

There’s a spirit pushing us hard, just to make a start.

There’s a spirit so determined to work in you and me.

Can’t be stopped, there’s no denying, just you wait and see!

 

Can’t be stopped, there’s no denying. Love will always win! Unfortunately, it is too easy for us to turn away from this truth, that love is the way we need to be in the world. Like Richard Wagamese initially believed, we don’t think we are worthy or capable of bringing light to the world.

 

Richard Wagamese is, for me, a modern-day mystic, one who died too young. Life was not easy for him. He was an indigenous man raised in white foster homes where he was not well treated. He eventually ended up on the streets in Toronto where drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed his life. But in the midst of it he discovered his love for reading and eventually writing. He became an award-winning author and an amazing poet. The piece of his work we heard read today reflects the challenges he faced every day of his life and yet in all of it he also knew the power of love within him, that he was a light shining in the world. “I’m basking in the light of my own recovery and the brilliance that comes from allowing myself to be seen as I am, warts and all. I’m not just those warts either – I’m the frog who wears them, gradually becoming a prince.”

 

None of us are perfect, or even close to it. We all have warts of one kind or another. But that can’t stop us from being the best that we can be, even if it is only moments at a time. Bringing this world of ours to a better place requires every one of us to know that the spirit of love is within us and around us…just waiting for us to shine.

             

Wrapped in Light     Chris Giffen©2009

 

May you be wrapped in light.

May your body open to the mystery of the night.

May your rest be filled with deep delight.

May your soul be wrapped in light.

 

 May you find a way to walk with wounded heart.

May your pain not overtake you as we part.

May you know the graceful bending of the strong and tender part.

May the arms of wholeness guide you as you go…

 

May you wake to days of laughter, days of hope.

May you find that love and peace within you grow

May you loose your burdens dancing in to dreams you come to know.

May the arms of wholeness guide you as you go.

 

Though we’ll always feel the pain that comes with letting go again.

May we ever know the courage of a love that will not wane.

 

May you be wrapped in light.

May your body open to the mystery of the night.

May your rest be filled with deep delight.

May your soul be wrapped in light.

 

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