By Kristeen Bruun
I am in love with God again. It won’t last, I know that. It never does. But for now, I am enjoying walking light upon the earth, smiling the secret smile of lovers, taking delight in the gifts I am given. The gifts are always there. But I don’t always have the awareness that being in love brings to them.
Possibly this state of being in love came about because I lived through several very intense experiences in a short span of time.
It began with an unusually powerful Christmas sermon. The state of our world had dumped me into a depression. Not just COVID, which has brought so much death and suffering (and which isn’t finished yet), but our own inability to make any except selfish choices, thus creating even more suffering. Then my pastor preached a sermon on Christ our light and on the promise that, no matter what happens, the light cannot be extinguished. He was brave enough to specify some of the forces of darkness that seem to surround us, but to emphasize that, even so, the light cannot be extinguished.
I felt a glimmer of hope. I went from that sermon to a week with family. I have spent many Christmas weeks with family in my life, some good, some not so good, and some leading to even more depression. But never have I spent a week like this one, in which I was so bathed in love. It hit me hard, coming off the Christmas sermon, realizing that here was light. Not a great light. Not a light to transform the world, perhaps. But enough light to keep the five of us going into the new year.
In the new year, I went to work. I am semi-retired, or as one of my friends tells me, I failed retirement. I work two months, January and August, the two months that start the spring and fall semesters, at my old job in the college bookstore. The money’s helpful. The collegiality is uplifting. I appreciate the teamwork. Together we get through the rush. This year was different. The servers that power our cash registers went down for most functions, and the manager, for whom I work, was called away because of a death in the family, both during the first week of school.
Corporate sent in a substitute manager. Now, normally, I think that “I’m from corporate, and I’m here to help you,” qualifies as one of the world’s top jokes, along with “The check’s in the mail.” But this woman was different. While working to solve our server problem, she also created work-arounds that kept us up and running. She got the best out of us without trying to turn us into some other store. It was an honor to work long hours as her assistant.
At the same time, I was journeying with the manager, Carleton, a friend of mine, and with his family as they said their good-byes to their husband and father and planned a funeral. I sing in the choir with Carleton’s mother and sister, and the choir sang for the funeral. I texted more during that week than I have at any time since I owned my phone. I also spent a lot of time in prayer for my friend and his family.
I felt as if I were living two lives, both incredibly intense. “See,” said God, “for this I put you on the planet. For this I sent you all of your life experiences, so that you would be prepared to offer your support this week in several ways. Look, just look, at all the light I’ve been sending you so that you could share it!”
“I get it,” I said. OK; what I mean is, “I get it now.” I will probably forget and need reminding.
I feel like Mary when she sang the Magnificat. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (Luke 1:47-48). God has given me gifts that fill me with light, and called me to tasks that allow me to share the light.
For now, I walk in the light of his love.