Monday, May 30, 2005

The Ancient Lamp In My Hand

 Posted by Hello

This lamp is sacred to me. It connects my microcosm with antiquity and eternity. It lifts me beyond time.

An object at once both common and rare, the equivalent of a candle in a modern home, it is found in abundance in every Middle Eastern archeological dig. My parents bought two such lamps as registered artifacts when they participated in an educational dig. One lamp was perfect, soft orange clay in colour and possessing its handle. One was this lamp. It was not in a spirit of preferring one another that I chose this lamp. I had fallen in love with the lamp which showed most clearly the marks of its use. My brother received the perfect lamp.

It was a lamp like mine, which Jesus warned the disciples not to hide, but to set out where all could see. It was a lamp like mine which the virgins in the parable carried to the wedding feast. One can understand why it was so important for the women to carry extra precious oil. Just a few drops fill the lamp.

The flame is smudgy, reminding me of incense, of prayers going heavenward, of praise and cleansing. I wonder if some ancient residue of oil has survived. Could I be mingling my twentieth century prayers with the practical thanksgiving of some first century homemaker?

Let it be so. Let there not be a limit to prayer. Let it flow backward and forward through time and across the barriers of space and limitations of place. Let there be Light.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Two Thousand Year Old Lamp

This morning I lighted a lamp. An ancient lamp. More than two thousand years old. A tiny lamp, small enough to cradle in the palm of my hand. A lamp blackened by age and fire, its finely incised decorations still visible despite millenia of burial and abuse. A broken lamp, showing a rust red scar where the tiny handle had once been. I lit this lamp.

I thought of all the years I had delayed lighting the lamp. Putting it off until some special day, some day worthy of marking. And how at that moment, on a perfectly ordinary morning I was rekindling a flame long dead. It was an act of ritual devotion. A greeting to the morning, to opportunity, to hope, to life, to Spirit.

I celebrated the unknown hands, the women, who had held this lamp in just such a way, and tended its wayward light. I saw how it must have looked, tucked into a crevice in the hardened dirt walls, illuminating the inner space, where family met perhaps to rest at the passing of a long day. It cast long shadows to my present.

Since it first came into my possession, I have waited a mere quarter century to light the lamp. Trembled at the prospect of a burning bush experience. Delayed. Procrastinated because the thing required some work, some preparation of wick and oil. I might not do it right. It might not light afterall. Now in the afterglow of Pentecost, I have simply lighted the lamp.

Scent of sandlewood oil rose in the warmth of the flame. I was one with scent and lamp and flame. New beginning. New and Ancient Presence. For a brief moment. Then the light flickered, flared, faded and died. I felt a brief a sigh of disappointment, then determination to light the lamp again. And again. And again. Until I get it right. Morning and Evening I Will light the Lamp.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Clear Conscience


Canadian politics does not capture world imagination, my dear American friends. We can barely control our own apathy. However, at present, the government finds itself in a minority position in the House of Commons and the opposition is threatening to 'bring it down.' Most Canadians want government which works. Something is clearly not working in Ottawa. The balance of power is held by three independent members whose votes are endlessly courted. A member of the opposition crossed the floor the imminent threat of another election has been stayed. However, before that happened I ranted off a letter to the CBC. It was chosen as letter of the day for May 16, 2005. Click on the title above to read my letter in context, or read it as is, below:

LETTER OF THE DAY | May 16, 2005

"We need honour, loyalty, the courage to admit mistakes, the vision to correct them. We need politicians of principle. We need parties that will work together for the common good of the people."

Mr. Kilgour thinks there is a clear consensus for an election. It appears, since the votes of the independents are needed to bring down the government, that Mr. Kilgour, and not the people of Canada, hold the power to bring about this decision.

This is Mr. Kilgour's fifteen minutes of fame. Does self-interest or truth motivate him? Will he be returned in this now seemingly inevitable election?


We need honour, loyalty, the courage to admit mistakes, the vision to correct them. We need politicians of principle. We need parties that will work together for the common good of the people. We need politicians who will set aside narrow personal interest for the sake of fairness and good manners, as Ed Broadbent did in his recent abstention.

Canadians are tired of the behaviour of politicians. We are ashamed of the carping and sniping across the floor of the house during question period. We are exhausted by inquiries that drain the public purse and produce, not justice or improved policy, but endless posturing, rhetoric and constant national anxiety.

We are quickly becoming a neurotic nation, twitching and writhing in our own endless self-examination and bearing the collective shame of our elected officials.

Where are the clean hands and pure hearts?

Amongst the BQ, who if elected to power, would set as a first priority the dismantling of the nation? In the compromising Conservatives, who in their quest for power are willing to sacrifice social programs that define our national identity? With the fratricidal Liberals whose only possible defence in the present situation is ignorance? With the NDP whose idealism has grown weary in waiting and whose only hope of influence is functional minority government?

Mr. Kilgour please, not consensus but conscience.

If we must have an election, then let us have the courage to fight it based, not on the performances of past governments, but on the reform of parliament itself. Let the self-righteous remember their own follies and the dishonoured their higher goods.

Let us have humility and grace and an honesty that goes beyond facts to intentions. Let us have clear consciences, and a moment of silence.

Connie Knighton | Bracebridge, ON

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Now I Know Why They Call It Bile

It's bile to rhyme with vile.

I've been feeling off for some time now. Had periodic bouts of what the unfeeling call the 4F disease: female, fat, forty, flatulent. Heart burn. Pain in the right upper abdomen. Biliary disease. Gall bladder. Things escalated. Now its acute long lasting unrelieved pain radiating into the back, low grade fever, chills, nausea, vomiting. I diagnosed myself and went into the doctor for confirmation. I have always found this the best way to operate. Saves time. Saves mistakes. Saves unnecessary tests.

I have seen the little 'pearls' in the ultrasound with my own eyes. There is no doubt. Except, when it will come out. I should hear about that soon. Too bad I'm not an oyster.

All of this, of course, has caused me, word lover that I am, to consider the traditional uses of the word 'bile.' I fully understand how this word came to mean "ill-temper or peevishness." Like the word 'spleen' and other visceral metaphors, bile found its secondary meaning through the ancient attribution of temperament and character traits to bodily functions. Believe me, there is some truth to these superstitions.

I have been increasingly irritable, easily aggravated, impatient, negative and jolly well angry as the weeks have passed. That is why I haven't visited some of your blogs recently. I may spit out invective when I mean to be kind. I may blurt unthinkingly. I may criticize. Blessing is far from my lips.

Now is it chicken or egg? Did my melancholic and choleric leanings foment the disease? Or did the disease create my distemper? Is this vile mood something I should repent of immediately, or trust it will disappear when the surgeon cuts out the offending organ?

Spare me your pity.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Daughter #1 and family Posted by Hello

Here's another set of blessings.

For a pertinent anecdote of how God is at work in my life see: Sneak Preview (below).

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sneak Preview : As In A Mirror

We had a sneak preview of heaven last week. Rob met a man from the past. Someone we had worked with when he was a teen. Someone we had not kept in touch with over the years.

We had found our work with children and adolescents rewarding but somehow incomplete. Unpredictable work. Often unappreciated work. Exhausting work. By its nature, it was work for which we had not always followed the outcome. We seldom knew how stories ended.

This is what my husband learned. This man from the past had been part of our camp staff when he was a young teen. A pot boy. (Talk about unappreciated work!) For whatever reason, now thankfully shrouded in time, we had fired him. Gulp! But the following Christmas, seeing his potential, we had cast him as the lead in a play. And the following spring, when he applied again to work at camp, we hired him, and he had a terrific summer. The trust we invested bore fruit.

Wracked with tears of joy and relief, my husband told me 'the ending". This man had treasured our years together. They were life changing for him. And now as a mature person in ministry, he used these experiences as a benchmark. "All my life," he told Rob, "all my life I have used this as my model for what forgiveness is all about."

Oh God, how blind we are. How little we know what we do. Somehow, we do right, almost by default. Unknowingly. And most of the time, we have absolutely no idea of the impact of our actions on the lives of those to whom we minister.

There are othe elements to this story which are highly personal and not mine to share. But this revelation touched both of us deeply and heaven's doors slid open just a crack. For a moment we were permitted a glimpse of face to face, the Love of God working itself out in a life.

1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. NIV

"Through a glass darkly."
What could it mean?
We grasp for reality,
struggle to shape meaning,
to see God at work.
Then Purpose reveals
magnified in the mirror.
A Divine moment
of face to face,
and sneak preview of heaven.

Constance 3/5/05