A Cup of Heartlight
It’s “Valentine” time, a good time to focus on hearts – our own and others.
This past Sunday we added a special song to the usual line-up of more formal hymns at Farnham and St. John’s. You know the song: “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” Really appropriate for a Sunday in Epiphany – a liturgical season all about light. This song was composed in the 1920’s by a guy in Michigan who was with the Moody Bible Institute and wanted something easy for kids to sing. In the 1930’s it grew within the “Gospel” music tradition. In the 1960’s it was picked up by 60’s folk singers who spread its light to become an even more far reaching beacon for change. That’s what music can do – one little song, placed on a proverbial lamp stand to shine light on a path for transformation, to shed light on the pathway for a new spirit to emerge in the times of our lives.
Who at Farnham last Sunday can forget eight year old Miriam’s soft voice singing this children’s hymn acapella, then leading all the adults to join in. How her little face glowed! Who at St. John’s got a special joy in seeing Barbara Walker, one of St. John’s true matriarchs “moving” to the words as we all sang the song in place of the usual “dismissal.” She offered verses some of us only dimly remembered from childhood Sunday school classrooms – along with all the hand motions kids were taught to give image to the words. A couple of St. Margaret’s School teachers joined in, knowing extra verses too, because of this song’s popularity at chapel there. Something about that little song brought big smiles, shining eyes and body parts swinging in rhythm before we “went out into the world to love and serve the Lord.”
The Gospel of Matthew’s image (Matthew 5:14-16) of light held up, not hidden under a bushel basket focused our hearts and minds during Sunday’s “message” time on how it feels and looks when someone’s little light grows, fills them up and then spills out. Also, how easy it is to “hide” that light (smoother it, block it, cause it to go out, etc.) not only in ourselves, but in others. We talked about putting on the “mind set” of Christ (St. Paul’s thoughts in his Epistle to the Corinthians) and key references to “heart” in the Psalms. How a Christ-like “heart set” can move us to loving action, radiating out from heart-full spaces with compassion and love. How a Christ-like “mind set” can stir up wisdom to illumine our lives and guide us into mind-full ways of seeing and being in the world.
Last week Sandy Wade Hagan and I were at Warsaw Manor with their Senior Center Wednesday morning group. On the first Wednesday of each month on behalf of St. John’s and Farnham we offer a simple little hour-long program around prayers, bible readings and discussion. They title it “Inspirations” in their announcements. Interesting, because my take on that morning once a month is that whether we inspire anything or not, they who are there inspire us. Their praying, their comments, their hearts “shining.” – I come away from that time with a glow in and a fullness of heart, mind and soul that warms me, gives me a lightness of step, a clarity of vision of how the world really can become a better place. Last week Sandy and I passed around heart shaped boxes of chocolates and we all talked about what it means to be “big-hearted.” They sure are!! At the end of our time together we sang another simple “gospel” type song that gives voice to: “I’ve got peace like a river, joy like a fountain, love like an ocean in my soul.” As we sang, I looked around the little gathering feeling an amazing warmth and light silently welling up inside of me. I can’t say it was the harmony of all our voices that did it. Rather some harmony of mind, heart and soul threads of light that gathered, wove together and filled this little circle of folks. I felt the image we hear in the words of our beloved Twenty-third Psalm, “My cup runneth over.” I left Warsaw Manor and those special folks sensing that my day and week would flow more surely because of being there.
As I remember this past week a prayer forms out of a deep yearning for me and all of us to let the “cup” of our lives be filled and for us to be open to its overflowing. Then, finally, I guess in some weird combination of words, that we may all slosh through our days, spilling this lightness of being all along the Way.
By God’s Amazing Grace, may it be so . . .