AdventPhotos2016 – Shine

27 11 2016

I took today’s photo at church this morning. It’s Reggie and her foster mom, Connie. Reggie has a clothes esthetic that I happen to quite agree with; shiny is always better. Today her shirt has a blue and silver sequined heart, and the ankle straps on her shoes are covered with silver studs. Last week her shirt said “Glitter makes me smile!” written in glitter, of course. That girl rocks shiny.

There is a difference though, between shiny and shine. Shiny can only reflect light from another source. Shiny is environment dependent. It is limited by what is around it. If Reggie goes into a dark room, her shirt isn’t shiny anymore, it can only be shiny when it’s around light. Shine however, can be a verb. Shine can act on, and change its environment. It is environment independent. When a light shines into a dark room, the darkness is altered.

Connie doesn’t typically wear shiny clothes like Reggie prefers. But, Connie shines. As a point of reference for anyone who has not participated in the foster care system, it is not typically a space filled with rewards, affirmation or compensation. It’s not a space filled with light. Connie chooses to extend a mother’s care and love into dark places where she is not obligated to go. Connie shines when she does the seemingly mundane, unspectacular tasks of washing laundry, shampooing hair, packing lunches, reviewing homework, and soothing troubled sleep. She shines when she sits down to lunch at a Mexican restaurant and orders a big plate of nothing but french fries because she knows that is what Reggie likes, and what Reggie likes matters. She comes into a dark place and rather than being defeated or discouraged by the darkness, she shines; changing that dark space into something that allows a little girl to fall in love with shiny sequins and glitter. Shine enables shiny.

As I light the candles each week on the Advent wreath symbolizing the arrival of The Light, in an environment marked by the darkness of division, fear, hatred, and anger both in our country and around our world; I am reminded that the choice between dependance on the environment around me, or acting on and being an agent of change within that environment is a choice that rests with me.  I want to shine.


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