You have to see the light

When you look around, what do you see?

Do you see bright and beautiful people or the ugliness of the world smudged across faces? Do you see a marching mob or a happy parade? 

Incline your ear. Do you hear gunshots or fireworks?

This past week has been one of contrast for Alberta Avenue. For a community in transition. A community trying desperately to emerge from its chrysalis. This weekend at Kaleido Festival we saw the butterfly. Last week, we saw blood on the streets.

Five shootings last week. All nearby. All reminders that there is still a darkness here. That people still do ugly things to one another. That it gets so dark you want to hide. To build what walls you can manage and light a candle for you and yours.

But love was never easy and love was never safe.

Tekle, Afewerk. Demera, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved September 14, 2015]. Original source: 

Love does, however, change your view.

In this month’s Rat Creek Press, there is a letter. A Dear John letter to our city, from a community member who is leaving because she is tired. Tired of fighting the darkness. Tired of fighting the city. Tired after 20 years. As I read the piece I became sad. Sad that she is leaving, but even more sad for what she sees when she looks around. Sad that she hasn’t seemed to celebrate. 

You have to see the light.

The light saves us from exhaustion. From the myopic dark. From defeat. I would like to think the Saints are those who remember to stop, sit, and eat ice cream. Those who remember to look for every shard of good in the world, strewn about from some ancient and beautiful blast.

You just have to see the light. And that is a choice.

When I look at 118th Ave, will I choose to see balloons on the street, leftover from Phineas Flash’s incredible artistry? Or will I see used condoms? Both will be there.

When I look at a neighbour, will I see the twinkle in her eye? The smile on his face as he laughs? Will I repay smile for smile?

When I look at my own children, will I see the times they’ve screamed at me in rage, or the times they’ve reached for a hug? Will I see the silly dances they only do for us lucky ones called family? 

It’s not easy, what with these eyes open most of the time. 

Little round planet
In a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see

from Child of the Wind, by Bruce Cockburn

Read more: Bruce Cockburn - Child Of The Wind Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I believe in a God who sees the light in me. I believe that’s how he can love me. I believe in a God who saw the good in people even as they beat and tortured and killed him on a cross. That is an extreme squint towards the light.

As I go today there will be much to see. It won’t be easy to see the light. It is, in fact, miracle-hard. 

I hope I see rightly.

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