The Light is Reaching

On a cold mid-winter’s night, fog roles across the fields and engulfs all that stands in its path. Trees lurk as ghostly figures in the near distance. Creatures of the night can be heard close by, although not seen. They almost seem to live in another dimension. The night tries in vain to reflect any light back to its origin, rejecting the notion that this deep darkness can somehow be pierced. The air is dense with moisture, gently baptizing everything that dares venture out on this eerily mysterious evening. One is literally engulfed by the scene, capable of disappearing from sight with a single step. The clouds of the sky have reached downward as if seeking land upon which to rest. Time seemingly stands still, as I stand on my porch gazing into the shadows. I find myself feeling lost.

This moment can so easily be a metaphor. Here in this night, one cannot see what lies around the corner. Shadows surround me, but I cannot quite make out their character. Meanwhile, the chaotic fog engulfs me from all sides, ebbing and flowing as a current gaining momentum. Life as I have come to know it only exists in another dimension. Light reaches outward seeking to guide me, while darkness struggles to push it back. It can be so easy to feel overwhelmed and invisible here, to feel as if the voice of my existence is being muffled, and yet I know my way around the landscape. I must only have trust in my experience.

I trust the God who I have experienced walking by my side with every step I take. I trust the Lord whose light I have come to know as it shines upon my every path. I trust the Creator who is ever breathing new life into me, and whose hand I have perpetually felt holding tightly onto mine. For regardless of how dense the fog can get, I am never beyond the reach of God’s Love and Grace. To me in these moments, these gifts may seem to be but a shadow lurking, however in reality they are a sun shining so brightly that it will at daybreak burn up all that stands between myself and that sun’s source. My experience has taught me that light eventually always pierces the darkness of this world, no matter how thick a darkness it may be. Thus I step without fear into the unknown, in full faith that I walk not alone, for you My Lord are the light unto my path. Amen.

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Elgin, IL)

Branching Out

 

[Jesus said] “I am the vine, you are the branches…” John 15:5

In my office is a stained glass window which beautifully portrays a vine filled with intertwining branches and many grapes. Directly next to it, perched on top of my bookshelf, is a vine plant which spreads down the sides of the bookshelf and reaches for my desk. Together, my Lord, they stand as reminders to me daily of your words above, the picture you have drawn of yourself as a vine claiming me as one of your multitude of branches.

This is one of my favorite analogies of our relationship together, my Lord, mainly because it draws the image of my life in perpetual movement – ever growing, spreading and bearing fruit. I have come to learn that there is nothing sedentary about being a branch upon your vine. I contemplate, for example, my plant which I nurture on a daily basis. Given enough time, and with my permission, it would send one branch out the nearby window and down the brick wall toward the sidewalk, while sending another branch across my desk and out the door to other office spaces. I smile at the thought, all the while knowing that this is the nature of the vine. It spends its every moment of life seeking to grow and spread. Comprehending the life of a vine is how I came to discern your sacred desire for my own life. You stand at the center of my being, with myself and a multitude of others through the ages ever spreading outward into the generations with your love and grace, seeking to engulf all things in our path. It is never enough for us to simply feed off of your love and grace for our own personal strength. We are meant to spread these gifts out into the surrounding world.

I must admit that through the years this imagery has changed my understanding of my place in this world. In worship, we all come together as branches intertwined into one plant, gathered around our stem and roots. This is where our strength is derived from, as you my Lord stand boldly as our base and roots. But then we each spread out into the world, reaching in all directions and embracing everything in our path with grace and love, even as we are still connected to you, our life source. This is a never ending movement, as the Body of Christ continually stretches outward. Somehow I am intertwined with all other life, and yet am sent out in a direction of my own. We are individuals, and yet carry the same gifts. Now I know that in my life there simply cannot be a time in which I am not acting as a branch to my host vine, for the connection to you and the plant as a whole is what gives life. I carry your love and grace with me everywhere and on every day, constantly spreading and bearing fruit. It is truly a beautiful thought. I do not only worship you Lord, but I indeed carry with me your love and grace with instructions to plant them as seeds in every corner of the world. 

 

So today I stand as one branch of the same life-giving vine, interrelated and intertwined with all my brothers and sisters through all times and places, and sent out to grow and spread best as I can, ever seeking to bear the seeds of grace and love. What a wonderful image of life. Thank you, O Lord, for holding me tight, and sending me outward. Amen.

 

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska

 

An Audible Silence

It is in the silence that you, O God, so loudly speak. Often, my Lord, I come to you with such cluttered thoughts. I am angry. I want. I am distracted. I am sick. I am worried. I have so much to say, and so many things I just must tell you. Somehow, in the hectic space of my life, I forget that you already know what my heart desires to say. I find myself talking in circles, seemingly at the speed of light, while you listen as a parent listens to a toddler, patiently awaiting your turn. Such is my prayer life, except that I rarely wait to experience your response.

But it is in the silence that you speak. It is not an audible voice I seek, but an audible silence. Your mere presence brings peace and grace into my longing spirit. I have sat in rooms as a person takes their final breaths. Not a word need be spoken. All is understood. You are amongst us, busy at work. Your grace and love are palpable. It is as if I can feel you brush by my side as you move past me. I say a blessing and hold a hand. I make eye contact with those who’s souls are slowly being crushed as they watch a love they have known so well gently slip into an existence we have yet only imagined. Tears flow freely and without hesitation. In this silence, your voice rings and echoes. I can almost hear you as you whisper, “You are my child, with whom I am pleased. Let me take your hand.”

Similarly, I recognize the sound of your silence in a garden, or a forest, or a sanctuary. As I grow quiet, I begin to hear your sacred heart of love beat rhythmically and I sense the gentleness of your hand resting upon my shoulder. This is a peace that is indescribable. This is a peace and solitude that is the answer to all my prayers, if I could only stop chattering long enough to experience it. So tonight, my Lord, I come to you. I will ask nothing of you. I will not unload my burdens. Rather, I will just sit and wait in the darkness void of all sound. My ears will ring eerily in the deep quiet, and I will know your presence again. Yours, my Lord, is an audible silence. Amen.

-Rev Jeffrey G Mikyska (pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Elgin, IL)