A light in the dark
Late night I got on my bike after an interreligious event in my city. There is nothing like a bike ride in summer and cycling at night is especially glorious. As I was driving underneath Beech and Linden trees with their lush greens hanging heavy and generous over the bike path I felt enveloped in green and enjoyed the scents and mysterious sounds. I was alone. I could contemplate what I had just witnessed and experienced – cooperation, progress, interest in improving the neighborhood and a more peaceful world. And I felt Love everywhere. Meaningful conversations after the event, delicious Italian food, and wonderful hospitality of an institution dedicated to promoting encounters and conversations in the neighborhood were on my mind as well as the city itself. Gratitude was filling my heart as I cycled on. "In atmosphere of Love divine, we live, and move, and breathe..." says a Christian Science hymn (#144).
It was the moment that I observed that I was actually more hearing than seeing. Darkness is actually pretty dark although street lights here and there provided orientation. But darkness is not daylight. I was cycling on, concentrating on the bike path ahead. And then it happened: Out from a side street cutting right in in front of the path I was already on came another cyclist, wearing a bright yellow jacket. He was ahead of me and very soon I realized that he had the same pace and also the same respect for the rules of traffic. He stayed on the path just as I had intended to do and didn't rush but cycled steady and evidently with a goal.
He was a little bit faster than I was, only so much that it encouraged me to carry on a little bit faster, to keep going, but not so much faster that I was unable to keep up. So here I had in front of me an unknown individual, a bright yellow model to follow, and this turned by lonely bike ride through the night into the most calm and sweet journey. I followed a bright yellow jacket and bright taillights right in front of me. I cycled faster than I did before - because now I had a mentor ahead of me and my need to concentrate on the path right in front of me was exchanged with a different model. All the way this unknown individual cycled ahead of me, and before I could thank him – which I had intended to do – he disappeared in the dark, cycling on where I had to turn in order to reach home.
This is how the Christ works, I thought. It is the gentle companion that meets us where we are, just at the right pace, just the moment we need it. This Christ companionship is at work everywhere, in specific ways that meet our individual needs --- and often it enters our experience like a wonderful, gentle surprise, meeting a need before we even had the time or wisdom to express it. This light enables us to shine love and it shows us where to go, without stress, with calm, and trust, and joy.
In his poem “Ye are the light of the world” Peter Henniker-Heaton he writes (you can access Henniker-Heaton amazing poetry through JSH-Online):
Man is no dreamer, waiting for the dawn,
Slow twilight or sudden uprush of the sun.
Man is forever the individual radiance
Of God, the Father of lights, the unsleeping One.
Man is no strayed sheep, yearning for the fold,
No prodigal son, remembering his father's house,
No traveler journeying to distant gates of heaven,
No voyager tossed on oceans perilous.
Man is unshadowed noon that wakes the dreamer,
Outshining the dark and all the dark contains.
Dreamer and dream are one; in hour of waking
These are found nothingness. The light remains.
Man is the pure, the innocent, the unstraying,
The unblemished lamb, the flawless image of God,
The son forever in his Father's mansion,
Citizen within heaven's gates, not on the road.
Man does not dream. It is his eternal nature
From glory unto glory to unfold.
This is the Christly fact that wakes the dreamer,
That, steadfastly acknowledged, breaks the hold
Of that dull slumbering sense which calls man mortal,
Dreamer, strayed sheep, sick, storm-tossed, wastrel son.
As full expression of light, we find man's wholeness,
For light with the source of light is always one.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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