Nothing Can Keep Light Out

So many thought Monet / was making it up, / imagining wildly
what things might be / if God held them closer.
But what he did / was much braver.
Like a human microscope / he kept looking and looking
as warmth left the trees / as waves remade the sea
as loss slowed into peace / undoing hard men.
He watched / strange flowers open / where only silence had been.
He focused so far in / that everything shimmered.
He proved by the strength / of his attention that
nothing can keep / light out.
It’s a small leap / to say that love / works this way—
a light that lives in the bones, / just waiting to be seen.
So why not / prop your heart / out in the open
like the easel that it is / and dab its blood / on everything.
—“Stacks of Wheat” by Mark Nepo

Too often, I think, we make the season of Lent punitive. It’s as if we want to punish ourselves for being human and fallible, for making mistakes, and even for enjoying ourselves. But this is not what Lent is truly about. The purpose of Lent is to help us dig into our deepest spiritual needs—to encourage soul-searching and vision-clearing—and to expose our hearts in order to prepare our whole selves for the resurrected, ongoing presence of Christ in our lives and world.

Now, this soul-searching heart-exposure might seem like a welcome and wonderful experience for those who long to be known, but it can also feel uncomfortable, disconcerting, even painful. And yet—no matter what—no matter how open and exposed we become—and no matter how we feel about it—we are held in the Heart of God who knows every inch of the wilderness within us and without, and who never fails to offer sustenance for the paths that lie before us. Even more than Monet, who Mark Nepo talks about in his poem above, our God focuses so far in, that everything within us shimmers. And our God wants us to know and believe that, indeed, nothing can keep light out. For neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God.

And so, for the next 40 days of Lent, I invite you to consider the light you see now—and the light you long to see. The light that lives in your bones—and the light that has the capacity to open your heart in a new way. For it is true: nothing can keep light out.

See you in church,