Every year, about a month before summer solstice, the sun directs light toward our front door from the northwest.  It lasts about two months before the inexorable tilt of the earth pulls the light shafts away for another year.   The refraction of its rays through the chariots of fire stained glass has a mystical feel, the light dancing like flames.  Each year this is a welcome reminder of another year of earth-time we’ve been given.

Light is fascinating, its spectrum far beyond what we are able to visually comprehend.  A pool of sunlight on a winter’s day invites basking.    In summer, we watch the beams dapple through the leaves of the trees, light and shadows forever shifting in the breeze, or sparkling on a lake.  A favourite spot for morning quiet time is the kitchen table, as I watch the sun begin its day’s journey in the east.  The ever-changing colours when the sun sets at days’ end calls me to vigil with the evening sky, riveted by the spectacle.  Through the night, the moon dangles in the sky like a pendant, stars twinkle like jewels against the black-velvety backdrop.

Rachel Naomi Remen writes of the time when she was a young volunteer in a nursing home, sent to entertain a very old woman with senile dementia,  Finally giving up on interesting her in any activity, Rachel just sat quietly with her as she looked out the window.  But before she left, her curiosity compelled her to ask the old woman what she was looking at.  “Slowly, she turned toward me and I could see her face for the first time..  It was radiant.  In a voice filled with joy she said, “Why, child, I am looking at the Light.”

Light was created by God, both the sun and other heavenly bodies that he caused to reflect it.  In response to the greater Light, human beings can also be light bearers, carrying a spark of the Divine.  In worship, we light a candle when we open God’s Word, symbolizing the light that it kindles in our souls.   As God called forth light on the first day of creation, so he speaks it into our darkness and chaos.

Our vocabulary is full of light’s reflections.  A person can light up a room.  We can be enlightened so that we can see the bigger picture.   We reflect on our experiences.  We use the picture of a lightbulb for the eureka moment, the spark of an idea.   We can let our light shine, turn on our “heart light.”  At my grandfather’s funeral, the officiating minister remarked that though our Opa had become blind, when he turned his sight inward he found beauty inside his soul.  If we let it, a light can increasingly glow through our frailties.

“Frodo (from Lord of the Rings) has no superficially heroic dimensions.  He simply goes on from one day to the next, through despair and beyond it, and as he goes, Sam sees a kind of light growing within his master.”   Helen Luke

The Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh expresses his desire that the young view light, not only in creation, but also follow that lit pathway to see God.  His poem is called  “The Child.”

“Child, there is a light somewhere
Under a star
Sometime, it will be for you
A window that looks
Inward to God.”





congerdesign from Pixabay

“Way to resist temptation!” said our pastor and his wife.  I had not seen them sitting at the cafe table nearby, watching  me walk slowly past the pastry display case in the store, dragging myself past it to the exit door.  We all laughed – that time I’d been able to resist.  At other times, I’ve not been so successful at avoiding the lure of a tasty treat.

“No more cookies”, said our son to our little granddaughter.  “I’m just looking,” she replied, with longing eyes lingering on the plate of cookies sitting on the kitchen shelf.

And food is  just one temptation.  Sometimes it feels as if life is full of them, the desire to give in to the momentary pleasure or leisure that can cost us our health, relationships and wellbeing.  Looking is often the first step to being ensnared, before we begin to entertain the desire in our hearts.  There are the rich desserts, the sparkling alcohol, the beautiful objects too expensive for our budget,  the experiences and talents others have that tempt us to abandon our own unique gifts, the greener grass on the other side.

There’s also the temptation to avoid the difficult task or conflict, to take the easy road.  Housework never looked that appealing until it was a way to put off writing my college essay that was due.  Writers know all about procrastination.  There’s the temptation to take a shortcut, do the minimum amount of work required to get to our goals more quickly.

Sometimes there’s the temptation to despair.  When we see the evils around us and within us, it feels as if there is no end to them.  The “idol-making” factory in our hearts sets up objects and tempts us to worship them again and again.

Jesus resisted three symbolic temptations:  to misuse his divine power by turning stones into bread, for his personal benefit;  to avoid human responsibility by throwing himself down from the highest point in the temple, a kind of fatalism; to succumb to greed for earthly splendour by worshipping Satan instead of God.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, he held fast to God’s will though he knew what the cost would be.

We do become familiar with our weaknesses, and know for some situations it’s best to stay far away from the snare.    If we buy junk food in the store, it’s almost impossible to avoid reaching into our cupboard for it: the point of resistance is easier to maintain when it comes early.

Knowing what we value helps, so that we can reframe with the long view in mind.  As Bob Gass wrote in his devotional, The Word for Today, “The battle is not just over your present – it’s over your future.”  We can zoom out the lenses to get a context.   What impact will these decisions, large or small,  have on health, integrity, relationship with God, family, community over time?

God’s Word promises us that we will not be given more temptation than we can handle.  In His goodness, He provides a way out.  When the temptation seems overwhelming, it will always be there.   Look for it.

“Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
Thy Father both thee and thy load will upbear.”

                     Excerpt from He Giveth More Grace, Annie J. Flint




Naskapi moccasins, Photo by Trudy Prins

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface. we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future.  When we neither punish or reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”                                                                                                                                                 Alexandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

The appalling discovery of the graves of 215 residential schoolchildren on Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc territory exposes a tragedy that strikes at the very core of our Canadian myth of tolerance.  European culture was systemically imposed by forcibly removing indigenous children from their homes into an education on the white man’s way of life.   The arrogance of assumed superiority is breathtaking.

Peoples and tribes have engaged in combat from the dawn of time.  But the greed, use of weaponry and political trickery to bully natives on to reservations after stealing the land on which they subsisted began a chain of generational trauma.   Financial recompense can only be a beginning.

It’s difficult to determine whether church or government should shoulder more of the blame.  Schools were authoritarian in those days in the best of places.  Many do-gooders did not realize that they were paving the road to hell with their good intentions.  The wisdom that was the birthright of the native tribes was not sought or acknowledged.   The church believed in the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations, but it can hardly have felt like good news to these children who were torn away from their parents.  And then there were those leaders who never had good intentions or had abandoned them for their own selfish agendas.  There had to have been people who turned a blind eye, reports of deaths that were ignored.

My childhood farm was near Caledonia, on the Mohawk and other Six Nations traditional lands.  Child of immigrants, I conjured up images of these original inhabitants as I wandered through the back woods and fields.   We read the poetry of Pauline Johnson in school, and her Brantford home was not far away.

The Neutral tribes had once inhabited the Flamborough farm where we lived when we were first married.  There had been finds of arrowheads and a neighbour even unearthed a peace pipe.   The department of archeology from a nearby university came to investigate a midden, only to find that it had already been disturbed.  At one point, home with small children, I had a piecework job dressing dolls in Indian clothing, to be sold as souvenirs in tourist shops.  An irony – this work done on lands that once were aboriginal lands.

But about the indigenous peoples themselves there was largely silence.  How do we restore their rightful heritage in a country that now has welcomed people from all over the world, sometimes themselves fleeing tyranny?  What would justice even look like?

It is a time to walk in their shoes, a time for respect and listening.  The time for silence is over.