Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bringing Your Light

Photo: Nancy Bauer, OSB
As we move into December, the rhythm of abundant darkness and longing for welcoming light is upon us.  This pattern immediately brings to mind a recent, true story shared on the occasion of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of our monastic chapel.  S. Michaela Hedican, Prioress at Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, Minn., told the story of a 300 year old church nestled in a rural area just outside Geneva, Switzerland.  At that time the congregation could not afford lights for the evening service, nor could they afford candles, so a tradition began that when everyone would come to church, they each brought their own light.

          A visitor came to church one evening and the church was completely dark.  The visitor was about to leave and as she was walking down the steps of the church she saw in the distance one light coming along a path.  Then from another direction another light, then from another direction yet another light and another and another, and step by step, one by one, from all around, people kept coming with their lights.

          As the people came into the church, they would take their lanterns and put them on iron hooks and soon the church was a blaze with light.  After the service the visitor said to one of the members: “This is one of the most unusual traditions I have ever seen!”  The man said: “We have done this for over 300 hundred years.  Now we could afford lights and we could afford lamps, but we like the symbolism of everyone bringing their own light.”

Maybe that invitation for living in the light these dark wintery days is actually that simple.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

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