I have wanted to get a tattoo since college. I used to doodle waves and wildflowers, like all 19 year olds I suspect, but my mom swore it would “break her heart” if I did it so I didn’t. At 42 I am glad I don’t have my college whimsies with me forever but the desire to express myself to the world hasn’t changed. What has changed, with each new season, is what my imaginary tattoo would be.
I like words. I’m a words girl. I read them, I write them, I decorate with them. So, the imaginary tattoo is definitely words. I have taken to writing different words on my wrist most every morning as a reminder for the day. A focus. Almost a centering prayer. A tattoo trial.
Today the words I am writing are “Chase the Light.” I have decided this will be my summer mantra in the Middle Season. In my life I have chased the dream, I have chased the ideal, I have chased the toddlers, I have chased the schedule, I have chased the clock, but this summer I will chase the light.
I want to chase the light and lighten up. I want to sit in the sun and linger under the lights in the trees. I want to light candles for sacred moments alone and wine nights with my friends.
As an enneagram 4, light is not my default. Whether I like it or not, I usually reside in deep waters. You may not know it to look at me in my yellow baseball cap and acceptable smile, but my emotions, thoughts, and desires are somewhere on the ocean floor. Not bad, just deep. But this summer I’m swimming to the surface.
No matter what personality type you are, what enneagram number, where you live or what stage your are in, the world feels pretty dark a lot of days. Parenting gets more complicated with every year, no matter how much we dig our heels in. We can love our life, recognize the blessings of our season, and still be honest that there are some shadowy places of hard, loneliness, and insecurity, can’t we? But my prayer is that in the space called summer, we can lay down the heaviness, at least for a few moments each day, to chase the light.
God has been teaching me a lot about the spiritual discipline of celebration over the last few years. Celebration as a discipline seems weird at first but when I look up from the the grind that is my life most days, when I look at the sorrow around, when I look at a culture of distraction and apathy at best and hatred and isolation at worst, celebration seems to be something we’ll have to fight for.
I’m fighting this summer. I’m chasing the light. Who is with me?
In his book “The Spirit of the Disciplines” Dallas Willard says this, “We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness. We concentrate on our life and world as God’s work and as God’s gift to us.” That’s a little long for a tattoo, but it’s good!
The heartbeat of my mothering has always been to honor the childhoods of my children and summer is for childhood! I will try to say yes more than no and will cultivate a place for creativity, intentionality, and all that good stuff. But I’m wondering if the biggest gift I can give to my children this summer isn’t another vacation, play date, or pool toy. What they may want most of all, whether they know it or not, is a happy mom.
Matthew 6:22 says, “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.” This tells me to look for the light first with my eyes, to focus on the good, the beautiful, the fun, the LIFE-GIVING.
So each day, I will look for the light. I will plan to chase it. I will plug it into my days. I know it can’t all be fun and games. There is laundry to be done and floors to be cleaned. There are fights to break up and meals to be prepared (so many meals….). Real joy, real peace, real celebration, real light is found in and about the cracks of real life.
One of my son’s favorite books is a Ninja Turtle story with glow in the dark pictures. We hold each page up to the lamp and then turn it off and watch them glow. I think it can be like that. We reach for the light so that then when the dark moments come, the less-than-fun tasks, the boring invisible days come we still glow from being near it.
We reach for the Light of the World. We reach for the blessings of the ordinary. We reach for a little delight each day. I will chase the light this summer on my mango orange bike. (Have you ridden a bike lately, just for fun? You should.) I will eat lunch outside and ignore the patchy spots in the grass for a moment to feel the sun on my face. I will walk away from the mess for a bit to catch the magic of the sunset and I will force myself to stay up late enough to look at the stars. I will say yes to the life-giving relationships more, the conversations that leave me filled and fueled up. I will drink sangria in my kitchen and blast the music I like for a song or two and embarrass my kids with my dancing. I will work at it like a work out for my soul. I will look at it like worship because it is. I will rebel against the darkness and heaviness both out there and in here with a banner of light.
The fish on the ocean floor are weird anyway.
Maybe summer isn’t for a big plan and deep intentions. Maybe we are overthinking this happiness thing. Maybe all we need to do is chase the light and turn our hearts to the good.
And maybe I’ll get that tattoo. (Just don’t tell my mom.)
Tell me what you’re doing to #chasethelight this summer. Let’s inspire each other and be light chasers together!