The highlight of our holiday season was "lights."
The first set of lights came when we toured the luminary-filled fields of Antietam. When we entered the park, four rows of luminaries flanked the road. One light for every fallen and wounded soldier at the battle of Antietam. Twenty thousand lights total. But it wasn't until we came up over the first ridge and saw an entire field alight that we began to grasp the sobering reality of the battle. Then came the next field, and the next, and the next. Field after field. Hill after hill covered in lights.
When we were about half way through the park Charlotte said quietly, "I wish the drive was shorter." At first, we thought maybe she was bored. But then she started to cry, and we realized she understood exactly what she was seeing and the magnitude of loss was overwhelming.
I have never seen anything more beautiful and haunting. It stirred my soul. The experience led to a spontaneous discussion of the plan of salvation and questions of how so many people can call on the same God and be heard. When I think back over our holiday experiences, this one stands out most clearly.
The second moment of "lights" was at the National Cathedral Lessons and Carols by Candlelight on December 23rd. This was our second year to attend the program, so I anticipated the symbolic lighting of the candles with excitement. The light spread through the cathedral as each person lit their neighbor's candle. Candles were lit by a family member, a friend, or stranger. And as the music and light filled the the cavernous room, I felt joy and light and peace.
When I look back over the 2016, I can't pinpoint any huge accomplishment. My personal journey was a series of small steps. Mostly supportive steps. In order to support Dad's job change, I side-stepped, and gave up some things I usually enjoy. My life was a cumulation of making hot breakfasts, going on runs, squeezing in work, driving kids to activities, and cheering other people on. But there were definitely moments of light. Small "little candle" moments. Seeing my children overcome obstacles, serving in the church, watching a friend enter a chapel to play her violin, running errands with my kids and just talking with them, asking for forgiveness, presenting a rare good lecture where I taught Truth (with a capital "T"), having friends accompany me to my scary doctor appointment, seeing a student learn, feeling humbled by the cancer work I do, and actually finishing reading a chapter book to my children...these were the little lights.
My hope for 2017 is to keep looking for the light and in whatever small way possible, keep lighting my little candle.
Happy New Year!