When I was a kid, my mom would take my brother and me to the movies each week during the summers, as a reward of sorts, for being well-behaved and helpful around the house. We would go to a mid-day matinee to watch whatever mass-produced, live-action Disney film happened to be out at the time. I am sure my mother also relished the quiet restful nature of the dark movie theater, occupied children, and the air-conditioning.
Inevitably, midway through the movie, I would have to go to the bathroom. So, my mom would send me up the ramp and out into the lobby to find the bathroom. It might seem unusual that a mom would let her kid go to the bathroom by herself, but I wanted to exercise my Gen X independence early. Plus, it was a vastly different time and place back then.
When I would return to the theater, I would be confident that I knew exactly where my mom and brother were seated. My confidence would wane, as I roamed the dark theater looking for them, finally yelling at the top of my lungs, “MOM.” At this, a half dozen heads would turn around, my Mom’s included. But, she would pop out of her seat, and scurry to retrieve me. This scenario would play out every single week. Each time I would head to the bathroom, my mom would remind me to check to know how to find my way back. Every time, I would be confident I knew what I was doing, and every time I would get lost on the return trip.
One week, entering the theater, my mom took my hand and pointed out the little light on the floor marking each aisle. I had never seen them before! But there they were and always had been, tiny lights marking the aisles. Who knew? She instructed me, “When you leave to go to the bathroom, I want you to count the number of lights on the floor all the way up the ramp. Then, when you come back into the theater, count the same number of lights, and there I will be.”
Right on queue, I left to go to the bathroom with a quick reminder from my mom to count the lights. As I headed up the ramp, the lights seemed so bright, but when I came back into the theater and counted the lights back down, I saw my mother’s sandals. She looked at me, squeezed my hand and said, “See, I am right here.”
The whole time, there had been these tiny lights illuminating my way. I just did not notice them before, as I stubbled, bubbled and fumbled in the dark. But now, I no longer needed confidence in myself to find my way back, I had the assurance of knowing that my path would be lit.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
In following Christ, I think about the assurance and knowledge of the light to help me find my back, even if I stumble and fall in the darkness. Knowing that the path back to Christ is always lit, offers me hope and peace. While on this discipleship journey, I think of all the people who have traveled with me, sometimes teaching and other times guiding, but mostly just walking alongside me, taking my hand in kindness and compassion and the shared love of Christ. See, God is right here.
Karla Koon is a Worship Leader and Eucharistic Minister at St, Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. When not serving at church or working as the Director of HR Operations and Administration for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (Catholic Charities), you can find Karla, reading, quilting, golfing, hiking, kayaking, and (safely) gathering with friends and family.