Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Searching for the Light

When I was in Madrid two weeks ago (it's amazing at how quickly the time flies), I had the joy of holding little baby Alvaro several times. The best part of holding a tiny baby is how great they smell - well, until their last meal becomes fodder for the local dump.

Anyway, I love the way his little head smelled. Tucked under my chin. Cozy. Warm. His tiny chest rising and falling as his lungs filled and emptied themselves of life-sustaining breath. After a few moments of auntie-baby cuddling, he usually drifted off to sleep. And I drifted off into blissful auntie land. Who doesn't love to hold a baby, feeling the surge of life, dreaming of what he will become, praying for God's richest blessings to flow over, around, into, and through him?

On occasion, though, that little fellow would stay awake. Intrigued by the the feel of my sweater against his face, the unusual sound of my voice above his head, and the scratchiness of my dreadlocs in his fists, Alvaro would watch me with eyes of wonder.

Then the search would begin. His desperate search. He would raise his head on its wobbly swivel and peer around. He looked for the light. And once he found it, he would stare at it. Whether it was a light bulb several feet away, the light of the sun piercing the shadows of the room, or the small fixture suspended over the dining room table across the room, it was the light, the brightness, the glare and the glow of it that most drew Alvaro's waking attention.

From infancy, we seek light.
In todderhood, we want night lights so we aren't left in total darkness when it's time to go to sleep.
Even my older children have lights and glowing things in their rooms.
I too have points of reference, points of light, really, that guide me when I get up in the middle of the night after having one glass of water too many before bedtime.

People speak of near-death experiences where they "see a light at the end of the tunnel and are irresistibly drawn to it." Family members who are loathe to release their loved ones to the Great Beyond scream out, "Don't go towards the light. Come back. Turn away from the light."

From our earliest days to our last hours, we are Seekers of The Light.
We do nearly all within our power to avoid the dark.
We light matches and candles on nightstands and coffeetables.
We keep flashlights filled with fresh batteries in predictable places.
My children leave lights on in nearly every room of the house.
And so does my husband.
So do I, sometimes.

I am glad to say that I am learning to enjoy the dark.
On these winter mornings, I creep carefully into my study,
lower myself onto the floor, wrap myself up in my very long, very warm robe,
and sit.
Alone. In the dark. Allowing my eyes to adjust.
But always, always my eyes roam my room and out the window.
Always searching for the light.

And in the darkness, my heart, my mind, my soul are also searching.
For truth. For peace. For joy. For grace.
For the ability to forgive and be forgiven.
I search for Light to shine through the darkness of my fears and worries,
through the valley of the shadow of illness and of death,
through the dark miles that separate me from friends I dearly love and desperately miss.
I raise my wobbly head and my shaky heart and search for light.

What comfort there is in His Words:
"I am the Light of the World.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."

In the darkness, I follow.
The light appears at a distance first.
The dawn awakes.
The sun lifts its head above the horizon.
Like little Alvaro, I stare.
Grateful that I've survived another dark night.

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