I was praying for a particular person recently and felt an image of a bucket of light being poured out at their feet like paint from a can. The light spread like paint, slowly, into a puddle and it was just enough to step in, just enough to give direction but not nearly enough for a path. And I found myself nodding at the truth of how God helps and gives us direction in our lives when we ask for it. It’s seldom a path, as much as we’d want one. God gives light in slow moving puddles, and it’s up to us to choose to step in it or not, likely inches at a time.
If we look back on our lives, we see the many times that one small decision or pivot changed everything. One chance meeting, one flash of inspiration, one choice that oriented our lives in a whole different direction. These are like buckets of light being poured out at our feet, one at a time, to get us where we need to be, yes, but more importantly, to build trust in our journey along the way.
As we near the end of this unprecedented year, we may be looking toward 2021 as a time to exhale, to reset, to start over, and all of this will happen but likely not at the stroke of midnight on December 31. Instead there will be buckets of light, small but firm decisions, the blessing of tiny open doors, a still small voice leading us to start some new practice or habit, a spark of intuition, a mentor or help that will provide a new opportunity, a resilient and straightened spine, a shift in the lens of our belief. Grace.
And it’s up to us to follow where that small patch of light is leading us, into the newness of what is to come, through pain or struggle or blessing. After all, we’re not promised a life without hardship, but we are promised a God who’ll never let us walk in it alone. As I look toward 2021, I feel the thrill of hope that the Christmas carol promises, the rejoicing of a weary world, but I don’t know what that might look like, not yet. Though I wish I could see a path for us all out of wilderness, I’m reminded that my hopeful verse for this year (Isaiah 43:19) does not promise a way out, but in. A way to walk through the dark and confusion of the wilderness. And though we may find challenges, I do see puddles of light at our feet and the choice to walk in them, and a horizon to which we can raise our eyes.
Today’s reflection from Jesus Calling echoes a similar theme. It refers to a ‘peaceful fog’ over our path ahead, the blessing of not knowing how it’s all going to work out, the relief of handing over the future to the care of a loving God. It speaks of the fog as protection, and it wasn’t that long ago that I would have laughed at that concept as heresy but as I get older, I understand. I always wanted to know, to search the horizon for potential dangers, to prepare for what’s to come, but I guess I’ve learned in this last part of my life that literally no one gets to know what’s ahead. The illusion of control has been revealed to us all in 2020, hasn’t it? We can prepare and forecast and work and plant, and we should, but we don’t get to see what might come from it all in the end. No one does. When faced with that reality, what can we do but learn to trust?
My friend Lynne gave me a bracelet this past New Year’s Eve, with the word ‘walk’ stamped on it. She couldn’t have known how this year would require our small steps forward, a choice to surrender our goal-oriented style of living in favor of meeting one given day at a time. But that bracelet and its message have helped me breathe through 2020 with more gratitude and acceptance than I had before. We’re walking through these days in puddles of light, one step at a time, and it’s so good to remember that we’re never walking alone.
As we move into advent for this year, that’s the thrill of hope our weary world most needs. Buckets of divine light, companionship for the journey, trust in our small steps forward toward a future in the hands of a God who loves us more than we know. It’s good and it’s enough. Amen, Lord, let it be.