I collect light bulbs. This search for human creation in divine image makes up advent, my preparation for entrance into sun again. With a lower-case a, this word means “an important arrival.” No, I am not talking about the second coming of Christ, but am plugging at words – like catholic (universal, all-encompassing), or islam (submission to God).
Many experience difficulty when the days get shorter. It’s a boulder shower predicted as we hurry to prepare. It’s the docent in the art museum telling me about Félix González-Torres – “So many people walk away saying, ‘I could do that!’ What they don’t know is that his art shows us about love and death. When a light goes out in one of his installations, we swap it for one that is working. I look at flashy art and am not called. His works are about loss, but also about rebirth.” We are in advent while we wait for an occurrence – a partner to die, a prophet to arrive, a soul mate to show up – and after this happens, we are still in advent as we try to make sense of the new picture.
So as I am waiting in the dark, I try to find light bulbs. I’ll take a substitute, a glow, some recognition. Like a Virgin Mary night light, I am slowly learning about the beauty of suffering as part of love. I do not like to suffer. But in my viewpoint, one understands that God feels pain and is in solidarity with our own suffering. This does not mean that suffering is good and people deserve to have terrible things happen to them. It is not romantic to suffer. Not all submission is chosen. But a God who asks you to submit means that for those who toil, there is hope. Even though I sound like an exercise video, I cling to believing the tired bodies we possess will one day soak in love and light. And by hoping for this, I am already soaking in love and light. The dream is something no one can take away from me. It is part of my autonomy.
I am in advent this winter, huddling under my full-spectrum lamps. Part of my love for light is the understanding that sometimes I need electric substitutes. Part of my love for God is feeling pain. I am waiting, and in the process marveling at the burning flames of Godly desire. For me, to give it up to something higher, I plug the cord into the wall and watch the light shine.
*title comes from a poem by Ellie Schoenfeld.