Watching Mama with the new little sweetness, just 3 days old and home settling in, creates an undeniably warmth, the cold winter air long forgotten as we rushed inside, removed layers of coats, hats , gloves. How can anyone deny the wisdom of our God to deliver His Son this way, the perfection of a babe, unblemished by the world requiring only the nurturing of family to survive? Every mother carries that glow despite unwashed hair and milk stained shirts, puffy cheeks and swollen feet. The shine that surrounds that circle of mother and child, with father hovering and leaning and seeking ways to provide comfort, that light defines who is in and who is on the outer edges. Important information, like warning flares, respecting the first days of that light, means no one gets burned. How much easier for those who have walked that path to take over, take the crying babe, deliver unwanted instructions, unwittingly diminishing the light and confidence of new parents? The light grows brighter though in standing just a bit back, like a candle first lit, it takes a moment to really take, for the wick to grab the heat and shine out in glory.
Knowing when to ask for and when to give help is like the dance we all do at Christmas Eve service when we light all the candles to sing Silent Night. One candle begins, each is lit from that. But the one with the fire must hold theirs steady, the others wishing to gain the light have to turn their candle. When you have the fire, you are controlling the situation, even if you don’t realize it, others must bend. Everyone is in the dark until they make that adjustment. Whispered instructions from those who hold the wavering fires to those who forget to turn help keep us all safe. Yet we don’t need to tell everyone, some watch and learn, some have been passing the light for longer than I have been alive. A holy procession could get bogged down in over-eager directives and constant teachings, forgetting that the power one possesses in the holding of the light means knowing when to instruct and when to hush. There is nothing like a darkened sanctuary filled with slowly spreading light as the singing voices join to fill the night. Together we create enough to see, together we allow all to glow.
Plum was playing a new game on one of his presents, a spelling game. Apparently he has to spell out what ever he wants to build, brilliant. While I was visiting mama, he conned his maternal grandpa into spelling all the words for him. When I reentered the room, he asked me for some word help. I helped him sound it out. I knew he could do it by himself, I knew he was leaning on the skills of those already educated to do the work for him. Yet that means he won’t grow, he won’t gain the confidence to play the game when no one is next to him, he will grow up to never be able to spell “pond!” Okay, maybe that part is not true, but still, building confidence is more important than showing off my own light, butting in to do things for others that they can do for themselves. Which brings me to my on-going battle with Chef.
I am completely aware of my rescuing tendencies. I understand I have a girl scout badge, an Olympic Gold medal, a Presidential (whatever the President gives out) in rescuing. I am like one of those well-trained dogs who go into disaster areas to find survivors, the ones who go crazy if they don’t get worked often enough. I KNOW this about myself. I am critically aware when it comes to building up Mama and new hubby as they establish themselves as parents, I am fully invested in Plum learning to read and write and spell. But when asked to hang up his own coat or find his hat, I get weak. When Chef is having a conversation with Plum and it is taking too long by my standards, I butt my rescue snout in and save the day. I forget that my intervention extinguishes the light of their circle, their interactions. Sure, mine grows brighter but at what cost? Learning to back off, stay quiet, allow them to discover how to bend, twist, turn is the greatest gift I can give to us all, allowing this child to realize he has a grandpa who teaches with amazing wisdom and patience.
I have been open about my own flickering candle, about the times I have sat in the dark. How blessed I am to have others who have shared their light, who understand the balance between doing for and doing with, who celebrate when my glow is bright again. I love that my circle is wider now, including many who share warmth from their own lives and wish to be included in the messiness of ours, not concerned if a little wax falls on them. Bending, twisting, learning, teaching, somehow we are getting through this together. Sometimes I hold the fire, most times I wait for the Light. I know the story says there was a star that led the way but I really think the glow from Mary holding her new babe would have bright enough for anyone to see, if only they looked. May your Light shine brightly today, may you be surrounded by others who crave your warmth. Lastly, may you remember that allowing others to learn how to light their own candles will only make for a brighter world.