That’s How the Light Gets In!

It is no accident that Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and Hanukkah are clustered around the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (and even Diwali is close by.)  This is the time of year when the hours of darkness are longer than the hours of light; (a difference which gets more dramatic as you move north,) when the trees have dropped their leaves and withdrawn into themselves to conserve energy, and many animals, including humans, slow down, hibernate, turn inwards.

The world is more barren at this time of year, which means the flaws and imperfections are more visible.  Some of us also experience emotional or spiritual barrenness that mirrors what is happening in the natural world, which can be especially distressing because of the contrast with a cultural insistence on good cheer.

All this might lead us to despair over the cracks we discover in ourselves, in society, and in the world around us.  But the lesson of Advent and Christmas is that the brokenness (in ourselves and in the world,) is exactly where God is able to shine through.  When our assumptions of the way things ought to be start cracking, that’s the perfect opportunity for a new way of being to burst forth!

The title of this piece comes from the lyrics of Anthem, by Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything;
That’s how the light gets in.

That's How the Light Gets In
That’s How the Light Gets In ~ hand-dyed recycled paper, shattered glass, reclaimed copper wire, in recycled frame ~ 12″ x 34″ ~ Advent 2107


The two papers that make up this piece are both hand-dyed recycled paper; the light blue is damaged paper discarded by a blue-print shop, and the dark blue is made with the 25-lb bags we buy rice and beans in.  Both are wetted down, crumpled, and soaked in dye.  The center is a piece of shattered window glass, and the faint shiny lines you see around the edges of the cracks is very very fine copper wire, salvaged from the workings of a defunct clock, which is hand-stitched onto the paper.  Stitching with the wire was challenging, because it is SO fine that it is hard to feel it between your finger-tips!


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