Discovering the Light

I’m reading a really wonderful book, Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle. He is a Jesuit priest who was pastor of a very poor church in the middle of the barrios in Los Angeles. His congregants are gang members and this book is stories about them, and about God. He buried a lot of these young people, and in one of my favorite stories he was looking for a biblical passage for a young man’s funeral. He decided on the gospel where Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” This is what he says about it.

I like even more what Jesus doesn’t say. He does not say, “One day, if you are more perfect and try really hard, you’ll be light.” He doesn’t say “If you play by the rules, cross your T’s and dot your I’s, then maybe you’ll become light.” He says, straight out, “You are light.” It is the truth of who you are, waiting only for you to discover it. … No need to contort yourself to be anything other than who you are.

I read this yesterday and the words are still lifting me up. So many times during the day I judge myself. I try to contort myself into being the light of the world. I get on the scale and think I am an idiot for eating ice cream last night. I wonder what is wrong with me that I keep doing this. Then I remember. I am the light of the world. I am the light of the world when I weigh less and when I weigh more. I can lose weight if I want to or gain much more, but nothing I do will change what I already am. I am the light of the world.

I try to say the right thing, do the right thing. If I say or do something that doesn’t meet my definition of “right” I will even re-invent the past in my mind so that I sound and look more “right.” But I don’t need to go through these contortions to be right. I am right with God right now, just as I am, even when I don’t know it. The rightness of me is just waiting for me to discover it. It makes me cry when I think of it. I want to cry for the sweetness of it, and for the relief of it. I am the light of the world.

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