Last week, after a full and happy Christmas Day with her family, my mother-in-law went to bed and fell asleep forever. We were not surprised-her light had been dimming over time, and, in these last days, it was as translucent as the papery skin on the back of her hands. After all, life is bounded by breath, pulse, and light. Without these, we are gray and cold and lifeless. And I think that, on this side of the river, the God who breathes life into us, who drums a thrumming pulse into our veins, and who IS the light of our living, also snuffs out our light in His good timing.
Here, at Trout Creek, the woods and running waters meld into the cold and dark of our short winter days. And even though we live just outside the city, without a clear sky and a near-full moon it is deeply dark here, a playground for the owl and deer, but a mask of drear, even dread for the rest of us. But, high up on the hill across the creek, the neighboring house leaves a back porch light on all night long. It is a beacon of hope for me, that this moldering darkness can be split apart, that there is a Light that welcomes us from across the wilderness of this life. Mom’s earthly light went out last week. But the light upon the hill shining through the dark from the other side of the creek reminds me that mom is not really gone, but joined to the great Light that is our Father.
To celebrate mom’s life, we made a pilgrimage to her home up north, and built a giant bonfire on the beach on New Year’s Eve. Hot cocoa, open-fire grilled kabobs, and happy memories of her faithful and cheerful life warmed us in the 10-degree evening full of the light of millions of stars. What a warm comfort it is to know that her light will live on in all of us.
For more on the nature of the wilderness, the challenges of life and sickness and death in this world, click on the FOLLOW button.