Today’s post comes from favorite retreat presenter, Fr. Michael Schleupner. He shared the following as we reflect on the Epiphany this week. Fr. Michael, and three other spiritual directors, will be leading retreat guests on a silent directed retreat at our Center, beginning this Friday. Please keep them in prayer as you contemplate the “ripples” of prayer too.
A Stone and Ripples
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. ~Is. 60: 1
Imagine a stone being tossed into the middle of a pond. It lands: Plunk! And immediately, a succession of ripples begins. Each one grows in circumference. And the ripples continue to expand until they reach the shoreline.
This image is helpful in understanding the history of Christianity. Jesus, so to speak, was tossed like a stone into the pond of the ancient Middle East.
Jesus’ coming begins with a very private annunciation to one person, Mary. Then it goes out to Joseph, to the shepherds, to the magi, and then the ripples continue for the past 2,000 years.
And again, it all began with the original “Plunk” of a stone in a pond. And it has rippled out and down to us today.
Now the Scripture is very clear in how it describes this stone, Jesus. He is light, our light. Isaiah foresees this as we heard in the first reading: “Your light has come. Upon you the Lord shines.”
The gospel tells the familiar story of the magi being led by the light of a star. The idea is that Jesus is light for the world and starts a rippling effect of light that continues.
For me, it follows that we are to see ourselves as a ripple in the pond. Like any ripple, we have received energy from the ripple that was just before us. And we are to be and give energy for the next ripple in the pond.
So, maybe we have received the light of Christ from our parents. Maybe we have received it from religion teachers or Sisters or priests or our parish.
And now, we are empowered to create the next ripple in the pond beyond us. We are to be light and give light to others.
For example, parents and grandparents share the light of Christ with children. They teach them about God and about Jesus. They guide them in learning how to pray and in learning certain prayers. They form them in knowing right from wrong.
Our words are very important here in creating this new ripple in the pond. And in doing this, we rely upon the Scripture, the Word of God, Christ himself, who is the stone in the pond.
And we are aided by all the ripples that have preceded us over the centuries. This is how we create a new ripple of light in our young children. And then, with our older children and with other adults in general, we create a new ripple in a different way. Here it is far less with words and much more with example.
In fact, we may need to resist the temptation to use words here. With our young adults and other adults, what we do and how we live are paramount. Our life and lifestyle will have the best possibility of leading them to become another ripple in the pond. This will have the best chance of passing on the light of Christ to them.
The last way that I am thinking about in creating the next ripple is with our world or with people in general. And my idea is that most often, we can create a new ripple of light by pointing out the light that is already there.
So, we point out the light in children who make a little Christmas present for their parents; or the light in our teens who give their time to some community service project.
We point out the light in so many parents who work hard to provide for their children; or the light in the man or woman who stops and assists an elderly person at the supermarket.
In other words, we point out the light. We resist, and this is so important, we resist the temptation to curse the darkness because that will not produce even a tiny new ripple.
So, lift up the light that is there. Then, the energy created 2,000 years ago when that stone was thrown into the pond, when Jesus was born, that light will continue and new ripples will appear and spread.
~Fr. Michael Schleupner