Today we continue with our series of Advent stories. Our reflection today comes from Helen Sestak, on finding joy and light in the darkest of times.
I'm not sure when I learned that life was a continual mix of extremes...wonder and despair, spectacular and fail, light and dark. Probably earlier than I wanted.
My parents' deaths brought sadness and despair. They died 30 years apart. My father, who taught me generosity, the importance of being a volunteer, and the magic of compound interest, died unexpectedly when I was in college. Darkness. My mother, who fully loved and forgave those who were hard to forgive and who could call me out with one raised eyebrow, lingered for two years after suffering a devastating stroke. Darkness pierced by Light...free at last!
Thankfully and consistently, Grace and Light have punctuated my life, like blinking stars in the black night. A found photo, a lovely mother-in-law, an old letter, an aunt's fond remembrance, a reluctant hug, an excellent novel, a signature in a college textbook, a gracious thank-you note, a perfectly-timed phone call, an ideal job, a family's love. Grace has lifted me up and gently placed me somewhere else. With Joy. In the Light.
Helen Sestak and her family have been members of Saint Stephen's Episcopal church since 1997. They currently serve as ushers at the 10:30 AM service.
Photo of the Milky Way over the Isle of Wight taken by Chad Powell in Oct. 2013. Image copied from space.com website.