This week's Lent in a bag resource is a candle. We were invited to make the room we were in as dark as possible, and then light the candle to see what happened. I had put my candle in a small glass tealight holder, and what I noticed was not just the light at the centre, but the beautiful way the light spread out. It was also on a glass topped table, so the reflection helped this small tealight give off a huge amount of light! I sat quietly with just the light from the candle, seeing how widely the light reached, and listened to some Taize music in the background. It was beautiful, really peaceful. I blew out the candle and the darkness was complete.
It struck me that even a small amount of light can make such a difference. So I looked for other places of "light" over the coming days. Taking big breaths of fresh air when I opened the back door, filling my lungs with freshness and blowing out the old breath. Hearing the children in Sunshine Pre-school playing in the garden and just stopping to listen to their laughter. Sitting in silence on the end of a phone while listening to someone talk about their loved one as we planned the funeral, and then laughing at a lovely memory they shared. Talking about "difficult things" with the Knowle Park children as part of their Lent assembly and being overwhelmed at the depth in which they engaged, even with the limitations of zoom.
All of this was light, it just needed me to stop and notice. Fresh air after being locked up for so long, children laughing when we have had such a long time of lament, joy through tears, and the space to share.
I really believe there is light ahead of us ... and that it's not, as the saying goes, the lights of a train heading towards us! We have to choose to see the light though. It can be tempting to focus on what could go wrong, to look for the faults in other people's behaviour, to be damning of the way the Government is being run, to be afraid. This is a natural reaction to this last year, our anxieties, our frustrations, our longings get projected out and we want to blame someone, anyone.
Or we can choose to catch the glimpses of light and hope that are all around us. Not just to choose between glass half full or glass half empty, but to just be still, to take some deep breaths of fresh air - in fact I read recently that breathing deeply has a wonderful healing effect on our bodies, in terms of regenerating energy, calming nerves, reducing stress and anxiety - so we can choose to take some deep breaths of fresh air, and be alert to where God is showing us light and hope. And even a small amount of light can make such a difference. We can notice it, and then before we realise what's happening, we're reflecting it and showing it!
The reading with Lent in a Bag this week is John 17: 6 - 12. It's where Jesus is praying for his disciples, where he's praying for us, I believe. I wonder if we could listen to those words washing over us - perhaps you might like to light a candle of your own as you read this
"I am praying for them" ..."You gave them to me" ... " I gave them the words you gave me" ... "They are yours" ... "Keep them in your name" ... "I have guarded them" ... "Not one of them is lost".
As we slowly emerge, beginning with a return to gathered worship at 8.30am from this Sunday for a simple Communion service, I pray we will discover even more of this light and love together.
With my prayers for you, and good wishes as ever