Written on September 28, 2016. By Shari Norvell
Fifty four weeks ago, I bought a lantern and pillar candle to nestle inside it. As my invitation was to light the candle each day as I prayed for returnings and reconciliations, I wanted to purchase the tallest, widest candle I could. I wanted it to last for the entirety of Jubilee. Yet, the lantern I was led to wouldn’t hold the biggest. It was made for the smallest.
My first few weeks of lightings, I prayed for those I missed and that which was missing. But one day, I don’t know which, as wick turned flame, I felt a tremor. Deep inside. In the bordered bottomless of me. Not a cavern but a canal. The passageway of what He longs for and I desire. The place they meld as the candle melts. Where something once hardened returns to oil that flows, seeping and satisfying empty lamps and lacked lanterns. The ready of the return.
A few nights ago, on a flirty fall evening, I was gathered in the midst of peoples I adore and the roar of their response, their responding. Wrapped in worship, I was feeling a bit achey breaky. In that moment, it wasn’t so much for those yet to come, but those that have been here and now aren’t. And those present yet absent. Nearby yet far away.
That’s when I felt her. The one I haven’t always known, but can’t remember being without. Idgy.
She stood before me with a glittery garment. A shawl. She covered me with it and as it caressed my skin, told me the way it came to be part of my story. As she did, tears crested the levy of my heart. Those no longer meant to be saved for those needing to be spared.
Sparkling silver it hung upon me as she shared that it was one of the shawls she had the longest. And chose the most. Because of that, it was missing many sequins. Through her, Pappa said that the little bald spots throughout the cloak were the places precious ones had once been. He saw. He knew. He cared.
Upon arriving home, I lit my Jubilee candle and laid the shawl next to it, watching as the light glistened on the gathered and brightened the barren places, where something once grew. As the light danced and darted, Pappa said that the glory of the gathered causes the barren to beckon. The greatest barrenness is to forget. The mightiest return is birthed from remembering.
He showed me then and now how that cape is like the robe He has placed upon me. It reflects where we are right now. It reveals what His heart looks like. His heart – the hub of everything. The bosom of beauty. With vacancies where beloveds once were. Aching empty.
Then He reminded me of a time years ago when I danced through our home with a shawl, going through each room. The aftermath was sequins everywhere. I would collect them before vacuuming and let them glint and glean in my hands. But I couldn’t hold onto them forever and still move forward in what He was inviting me to. And so, as I let each one go, I whispered a pray. I assigned something precious to each one. That didn’t mean casting them away, but giving each one to Him. Clinging to Him for them instead of clutching them to me.
In clinging to Him, I could see much better what He was doing. I could do it with Him. Not hopeless or helpless. Now hoped and helping.
Jubilee is something every generation needs. A set apart time in which to see how far love goes. It isn’t just that His arms are long. It is that His heart knows no bounds. It doesn’t move from place to place, but stretches to every place all at one. That expansion allows an ache. It requires it. Because of that, because of Him, sequins become seeds. But they aren’t sent reckless into the world. They are carried courageously in His hands. Cleaved to Him, we can see them growing.
The hand beneath is the one in which grass grows and trees take root. Fields bounty high. Gardens glow. The hand above holds the Heavens, filled with strands of stars and glossaried globes. The two meet as He claps for the just one. Light fills their path, water washes their reservoir with truth – a drop at a time, wind moves them and fire fills them until they become what they burn for. Until we do. That journey is reserved for each of us.
And so, I light my little candle each day. The one that shouldn’t have lasted this long. But it did because He is forever. And that is how long He longs for. With each and all of us.
Let Pappa reveal to you a sequin you keep trying to sew back onto your robe. One He wants you to place into His hand so it can become a seed. For the harvest.