Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Plain dress November - Lasst Licht Hinin
In 1909, a book of Carl Larsson’s pictures was published. He was a Swedish artist who painted beautiful interiors and portraits – a record of his family life at home and on his farm. He was a remarkable artist.
The book was entitled Lasst Licht Hinin – which means ‘let the light come in’.
I have seen pictures from the book, but never held a copy; it is our of print now. But though I like the pictures, and admire his work very much, what has stayed with me particularly is that title.
Lasst Licht Hinin.
This morning, now that Badger is on two weeks holiday from work, we were able to spend time lying in bed and just chatting at the beginning of the day – and we were talking about his own spiritual journey in connection with Franciscan spirituality. He said that something about the Franciscans he finds very helpful is their emphasis on practice rather than doctrine. The first objective of the Anglican Third Order of St Francis is ‘to make Jesus known and loved everywhere’. They go about fulfilling that by gentleness and kindness and understanding, and by living a discipline of humble simplicity and faithful prayer.
Unlike many of the Christian groups we have come across, their minds are not taken up with orthodoxy and heresy, rectitude and error, but with the outliving of a way of simple obedience to Jesus’ command to love one another. They are Christian believers, but it is upon the lifestyle rather than the creed that they lay emphasis.
Our conversation then rambled on to the Quakers. It is with the Quakers that I feel most at home. I have one place where my thoughts do not wholly concur with Quaker beliefs, and that is regarding the Eucharist. I believe the Eucharist has great power. However, I do not believe that the Eucharist needs to be celebrated by a special priestly caste, or even restricted in its expression to a ritualized liturgical meal. I believe the Eucharist happens wherever a human life touches what Jesus was doing at the Last Supper – gathering, breaking, sharing; and making connections between his torn and broken body, the torn and broken body that is His church, the vulnerability of human life as events tear and break it, and the redemptive transformation we find as we gather in our vulnerability, and consent to touch Christ risen in the sharing, the breaking and the Peace. Gosh, that was a long sentence.
I could keep you here all day telling you things I love about the Quakers, but to pick out a couple of things: I love it that they believe there is ‘that of God in everyone.’ I love it that they look to find in the silence ‘evil weakened and the good raised up.’ And I love it that they refer to the Divine presence in terms of the Light – so describing God experientially rather than analytically.
I love their testimonies – to peace, simplicity, truth and integrity, equality and community and the wellbeing of the Earth. I love their understanding that God’s voice is heard in silence. It rests my soul that no-one speaks because they are scheduled or ordained or employed to do so – but only because they have something to say; and, most of the time, when they’ve said it, they stop.
It was in reading the website of Quaker Jane that I first came across the phrase (George Fox I think) that ‘Christ has come to teach His people Himself’. And that speaks to me so powerfully that it sets my soul alight. The whole of my life I have been thinking about the way of faith; and having been on Earth for 53 years now, I have concluded that the touchstone of abundant life is a living personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without it, even the most beautiful form of religion is basically window-dressing. With it, hierarchies and dogmas and institutions become optional paraphernalia.
Lasst Licht Hinin. Let the light come in.
Today, that is what the Spirit is saying to me.