Bearing the Light

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Sometimes what is most profound is in the details.

A beautiful Advent worship had been planned. A young girl, beloved by our congregation, with severe physical disabilities was invited to light the Advent candle. As she rolled to the front of our circle in her wheel chair, Gail (our pastor) realized she would not be able to bend to the table where the candles were displayed.

Gail lifted two candles from the Advent cluster, one already lit and one waiting for flame. Handing the unlit candle to the young girl, she held the other one in her own hand, catching hot wax as it dripped down the side. Arms reached toward one another as one light became two.

The service continued, but as Gail sat back down beside me, I saw the wax already cooling on her fingertips. This sight became to me a symbol of the presence I also felt– God with us.  I deeply admired Gail’s compassionate leadership, her impulse for inclusion, her sacrificial act to bear light for and with another.

Bearing light is not easy. It may result in hot wax on your fingertips, or other forms of discomfort and inconvenience as we make a way for the peaceable kin-dom to flourish among us. Being a witness to this light-bearing restored hope in me, and a renewed conviction about the light I am called to bear in places darkened by fear or despair.

However we hold the light and in whatever place, what was clear to me in that moment was the incomprehensible width of invitation. It is a light for all people, within all people, carried by each one. As we move toward Christmas, may we reach toward flame and heat held by others brave enough to guide the way, that one light may become many.

Dark and Light: A Solstice Blessing

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

“You are the one who knows, behind the rising, falling tide of shadow, the moon is always whole.” -Barbara Kingsolver, Another America

Dark and Light
Are not so separate
As we often imagine.

What of dusk and dawn?
What of starlight radiance
And glow of moon?
What of cloud-cover and rain
Obscuring sun at noon?
What of shadow and shade?
Glimmering, flickering flame of candle–
Circle aglow in surrounding night?
Sunlight streaming through trees,
Sideways beams in late afternoon–
Beauty in the balance
Of the luminous
And hidden?

And so it is in us.
The necessary pull of moon
And rise of sun
Sustaining life.
The inner shadows
Inviting healing,
The spaces of shade
From the too-brightness
Of what seems to sear.
The colors of dawn
Gleaming in the
New-day soul.
The descending dusk of
Letting go into the night
Where the Spirit
Works unseen within.
The edges of light
Greeting darkness–
Spaces of passage
Where what we
Try so hard to keep

And the longest night
Of my life is,
Across the globe,
The longest day
For another.
And my longest day
Is another’s longest night.
The light does not ever vanish,
Nor does the darkness.
What I seek and
What I resist
Always present somewhere
Even when they are not
Always an invitation
And inevitability.

And so blessed are you
Who live in the intersecting places
Of darkness meeting light,
Who refuse to see as separate
The union needed for fullest life–
The balance needed for growth at all.
Blessed are you who enter
The longest night with a heart open
To the gifts the darkness brings.
And blessed are you who bask
In the longest day to soak in
The fullness of what is revealed.

Blessed are the dark
And the light
And the spaces
They gather
To meet
In every season,
In every heart.

Spiritual Practice: Where do you see the meeting of light and dark in your life? How do darkness and light contribute to the growth of your soul? In this Advent season, how does the encompassing darkness prepare us for the arrival of the great light?

Where To Find God

Lenten Practice: Examen
Daily Act: Seek God’s presence in each part of your day. At the end of every task, conversation, or experience, ask the question, “How was God present?”
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.


By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

This is where I will meet you
Says Divine Love:

In the wonder you feel
As you watch the icicles
Melting outside your window

In the gentle touch of another
When you are in need
And the comfort it brings

In the sunlight that
Turns to gold
Everything in its path
Which catches your breath
And awakens delight in you

In the conversation
That moves you closer to connection
With another person
In whom I also reside

In each moment you slow down
To notice the beauty around you
And let it fill your Spirit
In a strengthening way

In the hope that rises up in you
In the midst of encompassing despair

In the injustice anger that
Finally prompts your trembling voice
To speak out for what is right

In the darkness
In the light
In the sorrow
And in depth of joy

In the details
Seemingly insignificant
Which are the composition
Of the whole of your life

If you yearn to see me
Be prepared to meet me anywhere

It may not be
The earthquake you expect
Or the fire

It may be the silence
It may be the least expected place
It may be every place

When you ask
Where are you?
Wherever you are
I will answer

(1 Kings 10:11-13)