You Light Up My Life

Jesus says, “Believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” ~ John 12:36

When Jean and I go to the Valley Inn on Wednesday’s, I pray the residents will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that God’s love will fill their hearts and heal any wounds that they accumulated during their lives. I see beauty in the old, wrinkled faces and arthritic hands; each line tells a story of life, death, and resurrection.

The residents gather in the Mesa Verde room which looks out over the Inn’s gardens, a few daffodils are blooming, and the grass is turning green. “Spring is arriving,” I say. They smile and nod from their wheelchair thrones. Waiting… just waiting.

The elderly express their desire to go home again. I hear them, and their stories of lost sons and daughters. I assure them they will return home, and their children will be found.

I walk around the room, hold each person’s hand, call them by name, and thank them for coming. Without fail, they say, “Thank you for coming, Pastor Craig. We’re so glad you came to see us.” I melt in their gratitude. “Today, we’re going to talk about resurrection,” I say. Inez, who is my age, laughs aloud, “Go for It, Pastor Craig. Go for it!”

I look at Virginia who has rapidly thinning grey hair and a perpetual smile on her face which embodies wisdom that I do not know. “Resurrection happens every time we love someone,” says Father Richard Rohr. I move around the room, so everyone can hear better.

I can feel Virginia’s lively eyes following me. I turn around and her radiant smile pours into my heart. I stop and she continues to gaze upon me. “What Virginia?” I walk over to her, and she reaches out with both hands to hold my hand. Her bright smile never leaves her face. “What?” I ask.

“You light up my life,” Virginia beams. “What?” “You light up my life,” she says again. I blush and respond, “You light up my life, Virginia.”

“Light, everlasting light. Even in darkness the light shines. Heaven let your light shine,” I think to myself. I wonder if Virginia might be living in her transfiguration moment. Her face shines like the sun, and I am thankful to receive her divine light, a gift from God.

Rohr ruminates on the presence of light at the resurrection. “Basically, one circumscribed body of Jesus morphed into ubiquitous Light. Light is perhaps the best metaphor for Christ or God.”

I read to the Valley Inn residents from the Gospel of Mark. “When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen,” (see Mark 16:1-2). “Think about that,” I say to the Inn residents. “Isn’t that amazing? In resurrection, the sun is rising.”

Barbara, an elder in our church and a resident of the Valley Inn says, “I saw the sun rise this morning.” “Did you see God? Did you see the Risen Christ?” I ask. “I never thought about that.” She’s reflective for a moment and then says, “It was wonderful and beautiful. I hope that is God.”

“And even when we can’t see the sun, it’s still there. It rises every morning, no matter what,” Peggy says. “Yeah, nothing can separate us from the love of God,” I add. “Not even the storm clouds.” “You are the light of my life,” Virginia says again. I never tire of her saying that.

“Sunrise calls women with grieving hearts to sing and paints each morning in colors so tender they turn stone hearts to flesh,” writes Episcopal priest Becca Stevens. “Light means we can live in hope, knowing the light will never leave us. It allows us to make our song even at our own Easter morning. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.”

In her poem “Let Your Light Shine,” Marianne Williamson writes:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone.
And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

As we slow down, stop, look, listen, and smell, we become more aware of resurrection light rising. When we close our eyes and surrender to God’s way of grace, beams of radiant light melt the tombs of darkness in our lives.

Jesus says, “Believe in the light so that you may become children of the light” (John 12:36). May we embrace the dawn of God’s light moving through us and our world. May we be children of the light.

Blessings and peace,