I had to get my light box out a couple of days ago.
The light box is a bulky, ugly-looking thing full of vertical bulbs that, when you turn it on, flicker and then blare fluorescent from the kitchen table. The thing is supposed to help with the seasonal affective disorder, which for me, is really just a lengthening of my regular depression.
I don’t know if it works. I’ve been using it for years now, and I’m not sure it’s doing any actual good. Still, there’s something to the routine of it. Get up in the morning. Acknowledge the darkness and the ways it affects me. Choose light.
The world has felt so heavy lately, hasn’t it? The dark is sprawling from nighttime into day, and the election coverage is coming now at a constant, dizzying speed – volatile and ugly and mean. I spend a lot of time confused. What is true? What is right? What is my work in the midst of all of this?
The whole thing makes me want to crawl back into bed and stay there until the cosmic joke is over. Or until the sun starts coming up at a respectable time in the morning. Whatever comes first.
I bought this card yesterday at the bookstore. It seems to sum things up.
And yet, on the way home from the bus stop the other day I saw that red leaf, the one in the picture above. I had to stop there in the street for a minute and just look at it, the way it glowed so brightly against the asphalt, the perfect color of it, the shape.
“The world is fairly studded and strewn with unwrapped gifts and free surprises…cast broadside from a generous hand,” Annie Dillard wrote, and that’s what this seemed to be, this leaf on the road.
I want grace to look like a good, trustworthy candidate to rescue us from what one article called this dumpster fire of an election. I want grace to look like a 5:00am sunrise. I want it to be palpable relief for the friend who is going through a contentious divorce. I want it to look like miraculous healing. I want it to look like wars ending and refugees reclaiming their home and the world made right.
I want it to flash into the world like a sudden strike of goodness, splitting apart the darkness.
But today, grace doesn’t look like that. Most of the time, grace doesn’t look like that.
It looks like a red leaf on the asphalt.
Today, grace is an ugly sunlamp glowing from my table. An apple cider candle burning in the kitchen. A field trip with my son’s kindergarten class. Today we get to go to Berry Hill Farm! Today, Mom! TODAY!!
A loaf of pumpkin bread. A warm, fall breeze. The ducks lifting off from the pond and arcing over the house. Grace. Grace. Grace.
I don’t know how we weather the seasonal darkness. The next few weeks of elections. The next few years in a world ripped apart by fear and hate.
But I think it has something to do with this red leaf, left by a generous hand in the middle of some suburban road somewhere.
Pause for a moment in the middle of your busy morning.
Let it remind you that the hand of God is in all of this, extravagant in grace, littering this broken world with beautiful, beautiful things.