A still, small lantern of rising hopes

Sunday night. The sun had dipped below the clouds and the volcano, painting the sky darker and darker shades of gray as the minutes passed by until I was left, book light and journal in hand, in the calm, dark air.

I can’t say why, but I felt the call. I heard a voice that said to wait, to stop, to put away the cell phone and the computer and the distractions, to ditch trivia night and salsa dancing, and step out on the terrace and just be.


 “Go out and stand on the [terrace] in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Soon the lightening started and the dazzling flashes bounced off the clouds and the silhouette of the volcano.

I’d been avoiding it: Reflecting. Writing. Reviewing. Examining.

I’d been examining my life much like a flash of lightening—quickly and briefly and unsustained.

If I really examined my life, I’d be disappointed, I feared. I thought by now my Spanish would be better and my friendships deeper. I thought I’d feel awake and alive and adventurous. Instead, most times, I feel lonely and small. Disconnected and disconcerted.

So I’ve been numbing, tuning out, taking the insight to change like a flash of lightening, here one minute in radiant glory, back in stagnant darkness the next.

I sat a few moments more, breathing in the cool air and reviewing my journal from the last four months, scared of what I would find—or of the changes and growth and life I wouldn’t find.


And then the fireworks started. No kidding. Not just little homemade things, but Disneyland caliber explosions boomed and sizzled against the twilight sky. Like the dramatic adventure I thought my life would be. And in the darkness between bursts, weeping willow shapes burned against the canvas of the sky, burned into my brain—the remnants of the dreams I once saw so clearly—the adventure, the learning, the restoration of joy. Quick and bright and burning, and then darkness.

And then the show was over. Back to silence. Back to breathing.

And then, as if a lightening show and fireworks were not enough for one night, a tiny Japanese lantern–just one–with its silent, soft flame ascended into the sky, past my terrace over the rooftops and away into the distance.

A small, sustained light of rising hope.

I’ve got say He pulled out all the stops to point me to the miracle, the magic. To help me realize not in a flash of understanding, but in a slowly burning brighter and brighter awareness that this was a holy moment, a magic night, a sacred space, a sacred life.

That He is here. That His voice is the one that calls with love and grace.

And when I open not just my journal, but my heart to the feelings I’ve buried deep within, to the hopes and fears and disappointments, when I finally have the courage to stop and be honest, be real, be present—He will meet me in those moments.

I don’t have to listen to the lies and the cries anymore that say:

Don’t be alone.

Don’t think.

Don’t stop.

If you stop, the guilt, the sadness, the loneliness, the regrets will engulf you.

“BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE”, the still small voice said as the lantern climbed into the sky.


“If you stop–stop your striving, your avoiding and distracting and numbing–if you stop before me,


Not guilt. Not shame. Not a voice of condemnation. But my love and grace.

And it caught me between my ribs, a pinch, a pulse, and it burned throughout my being, rose up to my heart, my hopes.

I am loved. There is nothing but grace for me, nothing but hope.

I can’t help but write it say it shout it share it.

He spoke Love. He rekindled my heart. Stirred my hopes.

Not in the flashing lightening.

Not in the roar of fireworks.

But with a still, small lantern of rising hopes, glowing softly in the inky sky.


Have you ever experienced an invitation to stop and be engulfed by grace?


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4 thoughts on “A still, small lantern of rising hopes

  1. Lyn Dershem says:

    Yes, Aly, you are loved. John 17 tells us that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus. How awesome is that!

  2. WOW. God is good. God. is. gloriously. good.

  3. […] Engulfed by grace. […]

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