Lights will guide you home, and ignite your bones.
This song is in my top five of all time.
If I made you a playlist, sometimes, I wonder what story it would tell of me. I made one, right now, thinking about it, but I don’t know what the story is.
A story of trying.
A story of waiting.
A story of belonging, of leaving, thinking myself the one left behind sometimes.
But more a story of always being found.
I have a story about this song that I can’t quite remember, me standing in the back of a crowded gym after I had graduated from the school I love near my hometown. The a capella group in the school sang it, harmonies built with raw voices, and no one was afraid, and no one’s voice trembled. I think it was the time that I was so sure things would not come back together, after a year of the try hard and try even harder life…
And then they sang,
lights will guide you home.
I don’t know how to explain this, exactly, but in the quiet tumult of these last weeks and months, I have been listening to it again.
lights with guide you home.
That’s how I want my son’s journey into the world to be – lit up, illuminated, glowing with the fierceness of love.
That’s how I want all of us, the wild and ragged band of us, to journey through the world. I want us to live illuminated.
That try-hard life, it feels far from me now. It isn’t – I’ve asked so often for something to do, for an explanation of how I didn’t try hard enough, for a list of the should-have-dones, my voice cracks with over-asking. And some days I am heavy with the lie that we earn the life we have, that it is ours to possess, ours to control.
The truth is that Jackson belongs to me, but I don’t possess him. Jackson’s story, Preston’s story, my family’s stories, they belong in mine, and mine in theirs, but the stories aren’t ours, not our creation or our prop or our possession. The world shifts under you when there is a person arriving, a new life, a new wonder… and it all changes again, and you’re cradling your belly in front of the bank teller and you realize that you are not the same. That you don’t want the life that is hard won or earned – you want the life that is too full to be your doing.
You crave the life too full, too good, to graced with God’s intimacy, to have been your plan.
I remember that self in the high school gym, her with her try-hard tears and the weight of a world she doesn’t quite know yet on her shoulders, heaving them forward. I want to tell her that it will be okay, that she will learn in about two hundred and twenty weeks that she will not want the hard-won trying life anymore. I want to tell her that instead, she should let the words sink into her bones, nestle there. I want to promise that her life will be lit by the fierceness of love.
That her husband will love her so much better than the boy who didn’t see her.
That her son will kick her at the most extraordinarily right times, reminders of his abundant life even in the midst of what shadows, what feels dark.
That God will move, and keep moving, calling out from ahead and behind and next to her – Take heart! It is I – do not be afraid.
That she will have, not a planned life, not a hard-tried and hard-earned and hard-won life. She will have a life softened and lit by love.
Lights will guide you home,
and ignite your bones
This time, I sing it softer. A lullaby. A reminder. A single, glimmering hope.