Guiding lights

Drawn by one of my students

Drawn by one of my students

I hope your holidays were wonderful and that you can see beauty in your life as 2013 begins.

I took an extra week off chemo so that I wasn’t doing chemo on New Year’s Day. And yesterday was the feast of the Epiphany (celebration of the visit of the three wise men, who followed the star to find the baby Jesus), which marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas. It makes sense that I return to my normal life this week, though I hope to continue the Christmas magic.

Intertwined with Christmas is the story of the Three Kings. I heard it several times every year in Catholic school, through cartoons, and during Sunday Mass. That would mean I heard that story more than 50 times, making it so familiar that I tend to listen to it on autopilot.

But this past Sunday, when I heard the story again and the homily that followed, a lightbulb finally went off in my head: If it hadn’t been for the darkness, the three wise men could not have seen the star, much less followed it.

Okay, I’m a little slow on the uptake, but that insight clarified an ongoing puzzle for me.

If you have been along on this joyride for awhile, you may recall that, when I am in the depths of despair and my heart is ripped from my chest and life feels like it totally stinks, I become open to all this grace pouring in. I lie there in awe, unable to move and or do anything other than soak it all in. Once I start to feel better, I basically say, “Thanks, I’m good” and go on my merry way.

After awhile, I would fall into the pit again, and again I find it is just me and God, and I reach out for help and promise promise promise that I will never forget this awful feeling or the gratitude that I have for His help if I can just get to someplace bearable. Then His grace shines in my life, in one surprising way or another. Life becomes not just bearable but wonderful and then, despite my frantic and desperate promises, I do forget.

It feels so good to receive all that powerful and loving grace. I truly did want to maintain that connection and that openness to grace without being in a bottomless pit. But I couldn’t see how to do it, leaving me feeling puzzled and a bit guilty.

Lately, I don’t carry that same angst because, for whatever reason, I somehow feel more regularly connected to God and to the myriad of other spirits out there, but I do still wonder how all that works.

And then – epiphany – of course! You can’t see the guiding star without the darkness. And the darker it is, the more stars can shine.

From my friend Abi:

We humans like to quantify and label to live in duality: good bad, happy sad, easy hard, as though one is better than the other, when in fact, the human experience is a tapestry of all the infinite possibilities of feelings…when we embrace the fabric then it all seems to move through and we can have a very full emotional life.

Not that I wish for darkness in my life, but given that it is part of my tapestry at times, I am incredibly grateful to be able to see the light you shine in my life. I’m sure it has always been there, but it has been shining so brightly for me. Thank you for allowing it to shine.

Whether you are a guiding star or one who lights the path so that I can see it in my own good time or one who twinkles merrily and inspires joy or one who enables others to bathe in your light, you create an elegant beauty to the darkness and make it beautiful in its own way.

So…I have chemo tomorrow, and appreciate your good thoughts and prayers and your ever-present light as I do this. And I wish for you that you can see the lights to guide you, no matter where you are.

Love and blessings,


6 thoughts on “Guiding lights

  1. This is so lovely, Marie. Thanks for taking the time to articulate all your adventures and discoveries and lighting the way for the rest of us. Hugs and prayers for tomorrow.

  2. Right there with you. And I forgot to tell you I left a note for you in the Western Wall that you can send prayers too… Our guide told us we could do that. Trust me, there were a lot of other notes that had words and specific things on them but some blank ones for perpetual use. oxoxoxox

  3. Sending love to you. May you always find the stars in the darkness. Your tapestry still is being made and you will find that the bright will overpower the dark. Sending love and strength your way. ((Hugs)). As for your friend Abi, what a beautiful and profound thing to say. Sounds like something Khalil Gibran would say! (BTW, I love Khalil Gibran ;-).

    The stars are shining on you.

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