A couple of years ago, I wrote about why there are no lights on our tree. I’ve been wanting to renege on that commitment this year. I have just had this longing for the warm twinkle of lights on my tree and mantel. I also know that the girls would be so thrilled. I even looked at the boxes of lights in the store the other day and they are SO cheap! I could do my whole tree for about ten dollars.
I find that when something isn’t in my face, my convictions waver over time. I don’t lose belief in the root but I lose sight of the relevant. And a busy young mama, I’m mostly occupied with keeping my kids clothed and fed while attempting to do my part in guiding them in who they best are. Once you are aware, though, it is hard to forget.
So I was thinking about getting some lights and wavering and then I read about workers in a Bangledesh textile factory losing their lives in a fire. Lives needlessly lost simply because they weren’t valued enough to make the factory safe. Still other stories with the same sad ring kept popping up, begging to be heard. And I remembered the story of a man making Christmas lights. I don’t want my appetite for beauty to be fed by the pain of another. I remembered and again, there would be no lights on the tree.
My decision was made but I had forgotten others in my house.As the homes around us became lit up, Aneliese started talking about our decorating. Never before has she taken notice that we don’t have lights but not any more. Now she thinks they are gorgeous and at least wants them on our tree. She’s mentioned it often and we’ve struggled with how to explain. How to you tell a 4.5 year old about forced labor? How do you explain empty bellies, burnt skin, and shortened lives to a little one who still believes that if any one knows that another is hungry, they give them food? I’m never sure how to instill compassion in my little children while still honoring their innocence, without placing burdens not meant for their shoulders. How do we explain our choices without causing our children to judge others not held by our convictions? How do we live aware without sinking in the darkness? But how can I not tell them something of stories and lives close to my heart?
This week of Advent is a journey of Peace. To live in peace isn’t to ignore pain. To bring peace isn’t to offer a bandaid when a limb needs sutures. It isn’t to smooth over the tension in a room by filling the silence with humor as I so tend to do. Some of the strongest peacemakers are comfortable with tension and pull the rug off the elephant in the room, exposing it for all to see. I think of an overturned table in the temple, the writing in the dust, perfumed feet, and a meal in the home of wee little man. A peacemaker saying, "Forgive them."
Today, Dan’s and my reading challenged us to call darkness what it is; darkness, but live so in Light that the darkness cannot destroy as we continue to fight it with light. I still don’t know how to explain the darkness to my children, but I know that they can’t see Light by my pretending that there is no darkness, that there is no pain and hurt. The light shines brightest where the dark is deepest. Where there is light. Peace.