Light Reflections

14 12 2005

A new perspective changes things that we have experienced before. Sometimes, things that we all ready find unique and special can be transformed into something even more indescribable by a new view.

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child!
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

The Christmas Candlelight Service is always a quiet service of reflection. Having attended it in years past here at Grove City, I knew that it was a Sunday evening to look forward to. My freshman year, Dr. Moreledge, the former dean of the chapel, was there to recite the Christmas poem.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight,
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing: “Alleluia:”
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

Sitting in the pew, it was warming to see those around me lifting their unlit candles to the light. The wick would quickly flame and the fire would pass down the row.

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure Light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

“Lord, it is dark.” The light disappeared and only the light from the Christ candle danced in the chancel. The chapel was black. The poem continued with the lighting of the candle and the passing of the light. The light started slowly. It crept to the balcony and through the transepts. It spread through the pews with no regard to status. Administrators, faculty, children, and students. Each one lit their small candle from the one next to them and the flame spread.

Lord, it is dark, the road is rough to go;
I lift an unlit candle in the night,
Behold it, Lord, within my upraised hand.
Touch it to flame with Thine own heavenly light.

This slender waxen thing that is my faith-
Fire it, Lord, with some divine white spark,
Until its circle, widening at my feet,
Will mark my certain way across the dark.

“Thou wilt light my candle….” thus assured
I shall go forward through this unknown land;
The way can never grow too dark, too long,
For I shall bear Thy light within my hand.
“Thou Wilt Light My Candle” by Grace Noll Crowell

Standing in the chancel, I lifted my head. There were no flames evident. I saw no candles. Instead, I saw the glow of faces in the light. Pew after pew, family after family. Over one thousand faces illuminated by lights that I could not see. In the darkness of the chapel, the light seemed to come from each soul.

I had never experienced this inner light. The thousand lit faces welled up emotion. To view the glow in the darkness was indescibable. In this season of Advent, it was like an incarnation of the Incarnation. It was the embodiment of the Spirit in a candle flicker.

A candle was lifted in the narthex, signaling the choir and organ. Ethereal streams of “Silent Night” wafted heavenward as each still quietly sat in the pew. Voices melded with hearts as they both were pointed heavenward. As I heard “Sleep in heavenly peace“, I lifted my candle upward. The candles throughout the building followed, showing the seemingly inner light from each soul.

Silent night! Holy night!
Wondrous Star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born.

“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” John 1:9

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

The light that comes to the world will dwell within us. This light will not be hidden within us, but it will be evident. Perhaps those in the world will not know what causes the light. Instead, they will see the light evidenced by our demeanor and our actions.

Our actions will cause our inner light to be lifted up. In this, the reason for our light will become evident. And those viewing us will see the glory of the One and Only.

Forgetting Memories

10 12 2005

We recall specific information with fondness and other with regret. Our memories play such an important role in our survival and in our daily actions. We’re not a mutual fund. We know that past performance is a pretty good indication of future results. Sometimes though, these memories need to be forgotten. They need to be wiped from our slate. Perhaps it’s a person, an experience, or a trauma, but it needs to be forgotten.

I knew what I had to do. I should have done it long before. I had the chance to do it before and I told myself that I didn’t need to do. I told myself that forgetting was immature. Perhaps it is. But perhaps in clinging on, it shows greater immaturity. I struggled within myself as I opened the door. It sat there, with a thin layer of dust. It hadn’t been touched in months. I hadn’t opened it in probably a year. I really had no need to open it; I had to reason to move to it. But yet, I felt like I was hiding it there. I felt embarrassed that it was there. I also felt a twinge of regret when I looked at it. I picked it up and opened it. I looked through, just flipping through the items. They spanned years, yet they were so similar. I almost felt like an outsider as I everything out of the box. I looked at some of it in detail, but the rest I didn’t. I didn’t want to remember. I wanted to forget.

I put everything in my marral, from Guatemala. This was part of climbing the mountain and I wanted to remember that. I felt like having some from that analogy close would encourage me to press on. The bag was full and I left the house. It was one of those cold, gray days that so defines the region. I trudged through the mud and entered the woods. I kept arguing with myself. Was this really necessary? I walked aimlessly until I came to a spot with history and I was intrigued at the irony that I had come upon it. The bag was emptied on the ground and I knelt to light it. One match, and it was in flames.

Years were grouped in months. Months were in envelopes. The envelopes burned. The light danced in the shadows. In seconds, it was mostly gone. In minutes, I was stirring the charred ashes with a stick.

Fire doesn’t kill the memories. It just helps make room for new ones. Perhaps memories will never be forgotten.


What is the balance between forgetting the past and learning from it? Where is the happy medium where you can learn an optimal amount without being haunted? Those haunted live lives of torture, but those who forget live lives of lessons learned twice.


What struck me most was the common theme that I had missed. Perhaps I now feel like an outsider to my own situation and can see the larger picture. I hope that’s something I learned before the flames took away the memories.