By: Emily Meeks
The darkness is the backdrop through the blinds, but this morning I have a feeling — the light is going to be really good. I fumble out of bed to put on my running gear. I have not been in the habit of running with my phone, but today I take it, anticipating what might manifest out of a chilly and damp Seattle morning might make for a good photo.
I start to doubt that certainty, however, until I crest the 92nd street hill. As I turn the corner to the park, I see Mt. Rainier between strips of low lying clouds, all diffused in color and nested in shadow. It is so brilliant, so bright, that I know I have to get as close as possible. I sprint to get a break in the trees, stepping over clumps of frosted grass. I am searching for light.
I climb on a concrete pillar and see before me the majesty of splendor across the mountains. My breath forms these words from a recent reading of John O’Donohue’s poem, “For Light:”
When we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.
Everything about the morning becomes different because of color. I can feel a lightness and energy, but most importantly, I see things differently – an openness to possibility, no longer bothered by a list of things occupying my mind, and seeing things through a luminescent glow.
Ten days later, we take a Christmas day flight to Atlanta arriving in time for dinner and opening presents. I open my stocking from my in-laws to find a pair of sunglasses that are bright red. Inside their pouch is a small card with instructions to look at the image on the card with the sunglasses. Without the sunglasses it just looks blank.
When you put on the sunglasses, an image appears as a whale jumps out of the water. When you take off the sunglasses, the image disappears. “This will preach,” I whisper to my husband, feeling the wisdom of this micro moment of seeing something that existed all along but could not see before.
Paul writes in Philppians 2:2, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
So much of when I struggle with a situation or a person, it is because of failing to see through the eyes of Christ. Sometimes my vision is blocked by something I am not consciously aware of – a bias, a habitual pattern, deep emotion. These glasses become a tangible way for me to envision the message in Phillippians and be intentional about seeing, to take a step closer to the light.
Now it is Epiphany and the pageant at Saint Mark’s that was rescheduled because of ice and snow pre-Christmas is unfolding. The second to last act is the procession of the Magi – where children bring relics of the cathedral representing gold, frankincense and myrrh. It seems fitting for this day of Epiphany to remember the arrival of the magi to Bethelhem on Epiphany. They emerge in costume on moving carts from the darkness and appear more fully as the light of lanterns and a dangling star go before them to guide them forward.
I reflect back on each of these moments – the morning sunrise and the eagerness to see the light even when I do not know where or when; the sunglasses and seeing the image appear where I do not realize it exists; and the magi following the star, as Matthew writes, “they were overjoyed” (Matthew 2:10).
There have been so many mornings where the motivation to run was permission to be able to enjoy something later, but I am seeing the freedom in the invitation to feel (right now!) the rush of light, let it spread slowly inside and share this color and stillness back with the world. In doing so, I may see and know the love of Christ in places and people I may not have looked for on my own footing.
In this season of Epiphany, as we celebrate the revealing of Christ to the world, I am reminded of the eternal Light that brings a completely new way of seeing things.
May it open me to be ready to receive its multiple colors and shapes. This light is one of hope. I am ready to see new things out of its beams.
Emily Meeks loves finding adventure and connection outside, especially while running, biking, hiking and kayaking. She attends and serves at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.