By Kay Etheredge
It is Friday, my one day to work at Brother Bryan. I haven’t been here in two weeks due to visits from two of our children. It was good to come back today, even though I will gladly take a day off work to spend time with our kids if given the chance.
Before we entered the building a gentleman asked Jim about a change of clothing, so I came in alone. The lights in the back hallway hadn’t been turned on yet and I went to put my Greek yogurt in the refrigerator. As I turned to start back down the hallway, I noticed a large shaft of light coming in the front window onto the carpeted floor. I have always loved light and shadows and the contrasts they bring, so I stood for just a few seconds enjoying the beauty. Then I saw the camera on my husband’s desk and ran to grab it to try and take a picture. It was maybe a span of 8-10 seconds. I took off the lens cap and turned and the light was gone. I tried standing at several different angles, even walking back down the hall to try and recreate it. In that very short amount of time the sun had moved just enough to keep the light from entering the window and the beautiful light beam on the floor was just a memory.
A little over a week ago I topped “hospital hill”, a hill in our neighborhood that is on the top of the street that the old Trinity Hospital is on. I was turning right to go down the hill when a very large tree to my left lit up before me like someone had flipped a switch. There are dozens and dozens of trees in that area, but this particular tree with the sun directly behind it, was the only one that was affected. The leaves became a grey, almost turquoise color and they literally appeared to be dancing. It took my breath away, and I slammed on the brakes so I could stare. I’m grateful nobody was behind me. It was the same situation as this morning. I stared, afraid to move, and then, in just seconds, the sun shifted and the tree blended in with every other tree around it…non-descript green leaves parched from our hot summer and lack of rain. I made a mental note to look up the Bible verse that says something about trees dancing and clapping as I verbalized my gratefulness to Creator God for allowing me to see just a small glimpse of this sacred moment. I suspect that God Himself never wearies of the beauty of His very own creation, and longs for us to delight in it with Him…to notice it…to show Him gratitude.
After this morning’s grace of light I sat down at my desk to begin work. Only moments after, I received a phone call telling me that a dear lady in our church, someone I love, lost her daughter-in-law yesterday. Sudden and unexpected, she had died in her sleep. My friend had been on a trip with her son and daughter-in-law and was in the same hotel when it happened. Devastated, she sobbed into the phone. I could feel her brokenness and bewilderment. There is little comfort outside of the One who gives us Hope, and all I could do was ask if I could pray with her. All day she has weighed heavy on my heart.
As I work today I reflect on the testimonies the men gave at last night’s graduation hosted by Christ Fellowship Church. The men told stories of addiction and broken relationships. They told of becoming clean and sober and reaching out for forgiveness to those their actions had hurt. Some received forgiveness immediately…for others it will be a process, but through the ministry here at BBM, the process has begun.
I think about how the Christian walk is about light and shadows…about contrasts. How each of us, every day, stand in grace and are surrounded by grace and we get the chance to extend grace to those who, just like us, are undeserving. Each of us may stand in awe of God’s goodness one moment and then be knocked to our knees by grief the next. There are moments we want to drink in and stay and there are moments that we wish we would never have to experience. And the tragedies that life brings are graces as well because they are the moments when He draws us closer and holds us more tightly. The shafts of light and sacred moments are prevalent in this world but we have to be aware of them…to be looking up toward the One who is our Hope. The One to whom all creation sings.
And that verse? The one I made a mental note to look up? This is what it says:
“For you will go out with joy,
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands”. (emphasis mine)
It is 4:30 and almost time to go home and even though it is Friday, there are those who hurt deeply and need our prayers, so there is no “weekend release”. There are graces in this world and they happen in the form of great, great beauty as well as indescribable grief. It is a world that is not void of One who is greater. One who is Creator. One who stoops and bends and comforts. One who calls Himself Light.
The afternoon sun is sinking lower and lower. Right now the hallway is a shadow, but it isn’t ominous. Because somewhere, very close, a shaft of Light breaks through in splendor that takes away the breath. He places it there and asks us to simply see, admire, and call it grace because in a moment, it will be gone.