This morning a message came to me during meeting. I'm not given to repeating such messages outside of the context of worship; the temptation to refine and to polish is too great, and I am keenly aware of the arrogance inherent in trying to edit something that came from God. But I feel a leading to share my message here today, on this dreadful anniversary.
As I sat in worship, I thought of my friend who is haunted by the events of September 11, 2001. I tried, in good Quaker fashion, to hold her in the Light. And then I realized something: I didn't know how to do it.
"To hold someone in the Light" is a deceptively simple phrase, one that conjures a fairly straightforward mental image. But what does it mean? I know, for example, what it means to wish someone well. I know what it means to pray for them. But "holding them in the Light," though it may encompass both of those things, seems to connote a different meaning, something beyond the visual that comes to mind whenever I hear someone say those words.
Then I remembered how, in Quaker tradition, the phrase "Light" is shorthand for "the Light of Christ." This is the Light spoken of in the first verses of John, which tell us:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
The Light of Christ. The Light that is Christ. When we talk about holding someone in the Light, aren't we talking about holding them as Christ might hold them? And how might one be held by Christ, how might Christ embrace you? Would it be something abstract and ethereal, some subtle nourishment of the soul? Or would it be tangible, palpable, visceral, suffused with the bones and blood and humanity of the incarnate divinity?
I am not a parent. But I can only imagine that to be held by the Light that is Christ might be something akin to the way that a mother or father holds a tiny infant: wanting nothing; giving everything; holding nothing back. So close that the soft flesh of the child's face presses up against their own, so close that they can smell the scent of the child's hair, the scent of their skin. It would have to mean being the very soul of safety and security and comfort and solace and compassion for that other person, while desiring nothing for oneself. It would have to be a love so unselfishly intimate that time and distance mean nothing. It would have to be the ocean of light that Fox saw in his vision, the Light that rolls back darkness and confounds death.
This morning I understood for the first time how to hold my friend in the Light. As I dropped back into my seat, shaking and exhausted, so present was the Light in the meeting that it as if my friend were sitting in the pew right there next to me. The experience reminded me of message I heard a Friend deliver in meeting a couple of weeks ago: "we are God's prisms."
Image Credit: Wassman Photography
There are so many people to hold in the Light on this day.