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Shot Of The Day

Lights On, Lights Off

I had just seen this episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. A baby, old enough to sit up on his own, was on the edge of the kitchen counter with his mother making sure he didn’t topple off. Dad was next to the wall guiding the baby’s hand to the light switch. Dad would push the light switch up using the baby’s hand and the baby would open his eyes as wide as saucers and then release the most delightful belly laugh. The kind that only baby’s release. The kind that make everybody in the room slightly jealous that they don’t have that same visceral sense of delight at incredibly simple things. The kind that make you laugh involuntarily because the place of joy is so pure in that child. After the laughter subsided a bit, the dad would take the little hand and guide it to shut off the light switch. One little move and suddenly this baby was lost in delight again. Filling the room with delicious laughter. I pondered for a long time what made that baby joyful. Was it the sheer element of surprise? Was it the discovery that he had, within himself, the power to control light and dark? Was it the discovery of power? Was it something else? Does delight wear off when newness wears off? Am I still impressed with the miracle of light and electricity and the power that my hand gives my body through the synapses of my brain? About two weeks later, I was busy ignoring life. Planted in front of the TV, zoning out and feeling numb when my 14-year-old son came racing in the room. “Come here mommy. Hurry. You’ve got to see this.” He was so excited. We ran to the bathroom where he instructed me to put my face close to the mirror and to stare into my eyes. “Keep staring mom, even when I turn off the light, don’t stop staring even though you can’t see anything.” Dutifully, I followed his excited instructions. Off went the light. “Keep staring mom. OK, are you ready.” When he turned the light on, he and I, cheek to cheek in the bathroom, watched our pupils go from large black orbs to tiny little pin holes reacting to light. He started cracking up. Like that baby. He was delighted with the miracle of his eyes. “Isn’t that the coolest thing mom?” Through my teary smile, all I could muster in response was “Let’s do it again!” And we did. Again and again and again, laughing with pure delight at the impact light has on our bodies. I felt myself fighting for the lesson. Delight more? Or are our pupils telling us something that we need to know? Should we be pupils of our pupils and learn from them? Is it an absence of light that we suffer? Surely not. Our pupils open wide in the darkness searching desperately to find some light. And when it comes, it is so beautiful and powerful that our pupils need to retract to handle the little bit we can let in. It’s almost as if our bodies can’t handle it. So we rush to assert our power over the light. We switch it off and sit in darkness and then crave the light yet again. If only we could sit in the light long enough, a wonderful thing happens. Our pupils adjust again, opening wider and wider to let more in. As I’ve let that goodness penetrate over the last few days, the message seems to be coming at me from every direction. Preparing for a conference in November, I study King David. Though it was thousands of years ago, David does exactly what that baby and my son were doing when he wrote, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. This my soul knows very well.” A woman in my Sunday night class talks about how her son is teaching her to be a kid again, how to play and how not to sweat the small stuff. And then my sister sends me a quote this morning from USA Today: “whether we see the sacred and holy in everyday life isn’t a matter of whether it exists.” Which gave me a sense of urgency about doing this Shot of the Day. At 45, I’m learning what Kings and babies and teenagers and journalists for USA Today and sisters and men cannot avoid discovering — indeed, we are all walking miracles. We are a reflection of “de“light. Religious or not, aren’t we are all engaging in an act of worship when we take delight in something? At least it seems as if we are…. The idea is de“light“ful.

Posted: 26 October 2009