Father Mark, Reflections

Looking for Light

I remember working for a hospice once, about 25 on staff from different disciplines.  Being a Bereavement Counselor at the time, I had nothing to do with the care of the patient, but I was present to observe for family anticipatory grief or staff stress needs.   For about an hour or so after staff meetings I would hear various individuals paired up with peers from the same discipline talking about other members of other disciplines, not always in the most pleasant of ways—being critical of them.  

I’ve always found myself in a position of being in neutral space as a priest in churches, and a clinician in medical situations where people talk to me about others or I hear others talking about others.  I don’t have a horse in the race as I’m not part of the opposing polarity.  Sometimes, the talk moves from the ideas others have to the person itself and the unpleasantness of it all seems to escalate.  I say nothing if asked or if I overhear it because in the past, after giving perhaps a mitigating, compromising, reconciling piece of information attempting ameliorate the situation, the irritated individuals walk away because they don’t want to hear it.  They would prefer that I would agree with them. 

There have been many times in my life when I have been in the middle of polarized individuals or groups when I cannot take sides because I see light and beauty in both.   Obviously, people are different.  Yet the hues and rays of the light that comes through each are a wonder to behold. 

I take stock in that Jesus had to do much the same thing.  He calls his disciples because he saw light in each of them, in the midst of all their imperfections.  The disciples sometimes, could not see the light in each other.  In Luke 9, they argue about which one of them would be the greatest.  Jesus puts a stop to it.  If you have to be the greatest, then you’re already empty on the inside, and being #1 won’t fill it because it’s a spiritual problem.   I remember the words of my favorite all time manager, Sparky Anderson, who after winning the World Series in 1984, a few years later finished in last place.   After taking two weeks off from the team to recover from depression, Sparky said, “Every 24 hours, the world turns over on someone who is sitting on top of it.” 

When we’re undergoing challenges within our own life, it is easy to our project difficulties onto others as a way of compensating for our sense of a battered ego.  It doesn’t work because it doesn’t deal with the problem.   I don’t have to agree with someone, or even make them my best friend in order to see light in them.   We all have, as Jesus said, (Matt.7) splinters in our own eyes that grow into planks when we criticize others because a plank will not allow the light to enter our eyes so that we may see the light in others. 

At times like these, when our spirits, minds and the light within are tested, it is more difficult to look for the light in others.  Yet if we don’t make the choice to look for the light in others, the light dims within us because being children of Light is our identity (John 12).  Looking for the light in others doesn’t mean that we deny their weaknesses.  We just leave those to God.  We are not the source of Transformational Power that God is to make whole. The Great Commandment reveals God’s Natural Law of Creation found in Newton’s Third Law of Physics.  What we do to another, we do to ourselves. 

Look for the light in others, even when it is difficult.  You just might find more light in yourself that you haven’t yet realized.  

In Christ’s Divine Light—may He Shine on You.  (Light isn’t an “it,” Light is Christ himself.”

Fr. Mark