Reflections | December 20, 2022


Sunset over a lake with birds flying
Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman

The January/February 2023 print edition of Messenger features submissions related to the word “light.” Take your time meditating on these additional contributions.

Sun shining over dark water
Photo by Joyce Albin

Hope is

     A sustaining force which diminishes
fear and anguish
     An illustrious ray of light in a moment
of darkness

—Jill Keyser Speicher

Sun shining through dark clouds on the ocean
Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman

A morning meditation: where the light falls

That cloud-enshrouded morning in September, I meditated in the magnificent glass-walled chapel overlooking deep woods at the Creighton University Retreat Center in Griswold, Iowa. A single leaf suddenly shone brightly. The sun shifted to a cluster of leaves, then to a stand of trees. The thought came softly: What particulars should I focus on in my life today?

Next, the light fell on the bronze statue of a woman (the Virgin Mary?) bent double over a child (the Baby Jesus?) called “Maternal Bond” by acclaimed sculptor Timothy Schmalz. A question came to mind:  Where does the light of my devotion fall today?

Suddenly, the light filtered directly on me, asking: Where can I be light today?

Time came to return to my lovely group of fellow spiritual seekers back at the lodge. The retreat leader instructed us: “Meditate on the light outside the window: what is being illumined in your life today? In the silence, there appeared in my mind’s eye an image of Jesus with a yellow Highlighter pen studying my schedule for the day. So many thoughts to ponder! I took home the good questions to also shine light on more ordinary days.

—Janis Pyle

Light shining on a plant
Photo by Wendy McFadden
Ray of sun shining on plants with dew
Photo by Wendy McFadden

Children whispering and smiling
Photo by Saeed Karimi on

Brightened corner

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light”
—Isaiah 9:2

They blew into the visitors’ room like it was party time,
stomping snow from their boots, laughing loud.
Four of them — a mother and her three kids,
shouting friendly insults at each other, tearing off
their coats, jostling past us, racing to the seats
at the far end of the room.

The guards gathered around the check-in desk
eyed them with a mix of curiosity and disapproval.
Such gaiety seemed out of place in this somber space.
It was if the children didn’t understand that fun
is forbidden in a prison.

The man I’d come to see and I exchanged a smile.

Any light is welcome to those who dwell in darkness.

—Ken Gibble

Happy-looking dog with wind blowing
Photo by Jake Green on

Like the pure joy of a dog

Like the pure joy of a dog
wind in full face
breath not my own flow
my body taking the hard joust of each
chop of the lake
speeding through
hand shielding eyes
hair in an uncontrollable flutter.

And then the sparkle.
Oh, like no toddler’s superficial glitter obsession,
eyes squinting in the sharpness of light and wind and elemental layers.
The sun tangoed, dabbed, two stepped, curtsied on the surface
of each wave
here and then gone
over there and then on the move
all at once
in its own uncontrollable flutter.
What was there to do but to
give no thought to protective comfort
and to give in
to the spray
the heat
the shine
the speed
the fullness of the glittering ridiculousness of pure joy.

—Amy S. Gall Ritchie

Pink clouds in a blue sky reflected in a very still lake
Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman

No secret

No good at keeping
secrets, the sky blushes pink
where it hid the sun.

—Bob Gross

Pink sky behind bushes
Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman
Tree in front of brightly colored sunset
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh Cayford

Sun shining on doorknob
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Early morning light

The early morning sun hits the top of the trees
And its light shines into the kitchen window.

Its rays bounce off the chrome faucet and form an arc on the ceiling as if
embracing all that is within.

the sun has moved on and the arc fades.
But its warmth lingers and traces remain

Sending a message that we are all part of a larger circle
Each of us are part of a whole

Each of us are worthy
Each of us are loved.

—Jean Keith-Altemus

Light shining through colorful candles
Photo by BVS Unit 303

This little light of mine

Here, on this shelf,
so still dust settles on my head.
I am safe, but paralyzed;
powerless to descend or climb.

The hands that put me here
so big, they wrap totally around me,
can squeeze life from me at a whim,
or break my fall should I tumble.

I imagine I am the big-handed creature
that lifted me to the shelf, one time gentle,
respectful, thinking the shelf is safe; another,
sneering with a cackle while setting me in this trap.

Either way, I see I am like god,
different from the candle I put on the shelf,
different as a flower is from a rock, and
powerful. I can start light and make it stop.

Then, the prayers come, seeking
forgiveness, healing, or endless favors;
how they chatter and weep. Words
funnel into my ears, buzz like a drill.

I close my mind to the din and open my
complex eyes, sensing myriad fragments
of reality, essential pieces of the whole;
Am I responsible for that which I see?

Am I a microscope, a microbe?
What can I know, looking through
the lens that I am? What do I become
once I focus on what I see?

Without knowing, how shall I pray?
I hear people asking for things,
thanking God for things,
praising God for doing a good job.

The child sings as she lights my flame:
“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.”
I am the candle. I am the flame.
I am the light. I share grace.

—Elizabeth Hykes