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Readings for Reflection: September 2003
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

[Part Two]

Many times in the period of meeting for worship in which we share joys and sorrows, we will be asked to “hold someone in the Light.” This old Quaker phrase may hold different meaning for different people, however. Continuing from last month’s column, here are four more personal thoughts from individuals on the Committee on Ministry and Counsel on “what it means to hold someone in the Light.”

Several things come to mind when I think about holding someone in the light. Most of them will, I am sure, be articulated by others much better than I could say them. The one I would like to share is perhaps a little controversial, but it is important to me as we seek to become more aware of the way in which racism affects us as individuals and as a Meeting. As meaningful as the image of "the light" is to most of us, it is also part of a strong tendency in our culture to picture the light as good and the dark as bad. For example, I recall a Meeting attender saying that she had great difficulty finding videos for her biracial adopted daughters to watch that did not portray characters who were dark as scary and evil. This tendency is experienced as hurtful by at least some people of color--probably many people of color. I am not suggesting that we give up the image, but that we be aware of the discomfort or pain it causes some people, that we consider sometimes using other images such as holding people "in our hearts" or "in prayer," and that we look for ways to use and encourage positive images of darkness.

When I Hold people in the Light I am most comfortable visualizing them wrapped in an actual warm light. To me it represents God's love. If I know the person, I "see" them. If not, I find my mind still sees a light and I know that God is, and will be, caring for that person. A speaker at the FGC Gathering this year led us to understand that in the Bible we are instructed to petition God. So many of us wonder if it's "OK" to pray for health and well being, and it was wonderful to be invited to ask.

I like to think of “holding in the Light” as being “holding in Love.” The Light to me represents God’s love and some of its qualities, and so when I think of holding someone in the Light I picture them surrounded by visual, bright Light, but also surrounded by something with warmth and a soft texture. In the Psalms there is reference to being borne up on the wings of an eagle, and I like the image of an eagle’s wing as part of God’s love. The wing can be powerful, strong, and uplifting, but on the ground the wing can encircle us in a warm and comforting way. Thus, I envision someone being held in brightness, warmth, and softness.

If illness, or some other bad turn in my life, struck me next week, I would like Friends to hold "me" in the light, and not just my bad fortune. It is easy for the concern to focus on the illness, forgetting that there is a person there who has, or has had, a whole life that needs holding in the light as well. Hold the person up to the light so that we may see illuminated all that there is to the person. The thought above came to me recently when a Friend told of seeing a person in need, and not realizing for the longest time that there was more to helping this person than tending to the need.

All Readings for Reflection
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