I am reading Stephen Cherry's "Barefoot Prayers" as my Lent book this year and really enjoying his poems. This morning the poem reflected on the issue of receiving thanks, he described the delight and discomfort of it, how we both need and enjoy it and brush it off in embarrassment.
"I want to push it back,
to shake it off,
to negative the positive.
To make it neutral: "it was nothing,";
your thanks is nothing".
But neither were nothing.
I have been thanked for my effort and
skill, diligence and care.
I am thrilled.
Yet still I am cautious, in case
in thrilling something is spoilt,
This is something I can identify with quite strongly, for while it is gratifying and encouraging to be thanked it can also be uncomfortable and even make me want the ground to open up and swallow me at times. I do not want the spotlight, and yet stepping in to my calling requires me to step into the light, but sometimes what that light shows up can be discomforting to say the least. When I step into the light I step into a place where I am known, a place where I cannot be false, because I cannot be false in the light, but I must reflect that the true light and the limelight are by nature at odds with one another, and perhaps that is my conundrum.
If I court the limelight, actively seeking attention and applause I am almost always wearing a mask, acting out a role, letting you see what I perceive what you want to see, if I step into the true light then the mask is seen for what it is, a hiding place at best, and a falsehood at worst. I am not decrying good acting or storytelling, which has a place in illuminating and speaking truth to our lives, but rather asking questions of our very human tendency to hide in plain sight. So maybe it is being thanked for not being ourselves that places us in a very uncomfortable position! When we mumble words it wasn't me we reveal a deeper, darker truth, and the true light begins to do its work...
True light, God light shows things up for what they are, but it is not a light that we need to fear, for in God light we find love and grace to cast away the shadows of fear. God light reveals our deeper selves in a gentle, encouraging, gracious and healing way. God light allows us to see ourselves, warts, wonders and all. When we are standing and living in God light and we are thanked we can respond with true humility and celebrating the gifts and talents he has given to us we can respond, thank you, by the grace of God I am who I am...
Journey: When light meets the dark. S Coleman