This year, for Christmas, George and I flew to London to see Mary. We walked a lot and rode the Tube a lot and ate some really good Pakistani food and watched a whole lot of British television. It was so good to see my sister.
Our flight home felt much quicker than the flight going, probably because it was in the middle of the day. I spent the last couple hours occasionally switching through the maps that track your progress across the ocean. I found the one which shows you various time zones–where the sun is up and where it’s down–and I stared for about a minute. Behind us, in the UK, the sun had set several hours before, but we were still in the sunlit part of the world, and daylight stretched ahead of us. We were chasing light. Out-running the darkness, borne up by the air.
I felt a little giddy and I thought of Isaiah 9. It’s a typical Christmas passage, but I’ve been thinking of more than usual this year. It was one of the readings at the Christmas Eve service at St. Paul’s, and the queen referred to it in her Christmas day speech. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. We were in the midst of it.
The light we chase, the light that bursts into the land of the shadow of death is the incarnate Christ, God with us. Our Lord’s highest calling was to become the lowest. The light of the incarnation and what Jesus made of the life he lived here on shabby earth can illuminate each thing we do and see and say, like a shaft of sun shooting through a crack in a heavy curtain. The indelible purpose of God made man for love and suffering, will show us, as far as we can bear to see it, the why and wherefore of the scattered pieces of our own lives. We were made to bear witness of and to the Light.
Bear witness while we sleep and when we wake. Bear witness barefoot and cold and laughing. Bear witness when He drives the demons out into the swine and bear witness while we wait on Him. Bear witness in the shadows and the promises. Bear witness to God with us and with us and with us. It’s bearing witness in this mortal coil that teaches and leads us somewhere. Leads us to glory.
On the way to my Grandpa’s funeral and back, in the car, we read The Last Battle. We got to the last chapter three days after we had buried him, as we headed up to DC, where George and I would fly to London. It ends:
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
After my mom finished reading, she closed the book and was very quiet.