Feeling particularly subversive today? I certainly hope so. You might wonder just what I’m talking about. Well, the idea came to me while I was reading a book by Eugene Peterson called The Contemplative Pastor. I was drawn to his use of the word subversive as a description for the life altering power of faith. For Peterson, and now for me, every act of faith is an act of subversion, even the quiet ones like prayer: “Prayer is a subversive activity. It involves a more or less open act of defiance against any claim by the current regime….[As we pray,] slowly but surely, not culture, not family, not government, not job, not even the tyrannous self can stand against the quiet power and creative influence of God’s sovereignty. Every natural tie of family and race, every willed commitment to person and nation is finally subordinated to the rule of God (Eugene Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is).”
So, what do I mean by “subversive”? Again, let’s listen to Peterson: “(Christian acts of subversion are the) common Christian acts. The acts of sacrificial love, justice and hope. .. By encouraging one another, by praying together, by studying Scripture together, and most of all by listening with each other, we develop a sense that these things are in fact the very center of our lives. And we recognize that those things are not the center of the world’s life, however much cultural talk there is about Christianity. If we can develop a sense that sacrificial love, justice, and hope are at the core of our identities — they go to our jobs with us each day, go with us into our relationships with colleagues, friends, and family — then we are in fact subversive (Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor).
Okay, you say, but what do you mean by subversive light? For me, subversive light means that very sense of love, justice and hope to which Peterson refers. It is subversive like water — it peaks through the trees of the forest that blocks you, it shines through the cracks in the pile of stones in your way, it burns like an Advent candle in a dark room. It is light that works from the inside out, and, like water, it has power and creates change from the inside out. And, like Peterson, I believe we find that light and give it power when we are known as a practicing Christian, not just a member of a church. When we adopt and live into practices like prayer, study, spiritual companionship, service, and many others, then we become one with that light and then and only then can we be a light for others.
And so, I created Subversive Light LLC. I don’t really have a name for what it is yet, but I know what we practice. We read, we think, we talk, we listen, we pray together and alone. We tell stories, we help others tell their stories and oh yes, did I say that we listen? We listen and we notice.
And here is where you can find news and thoughts about what we are doing together. Maybe you will join in our practice, maybe you will join together with us on this journey of faith. For my part, I bring my skills as a storyteller, a spiritual director, a teacher and a writer to this dance. You bring wonderful skills that I cannot yet name. Together, we walk the path and try to bring a little of that subversive light to this road we walk with God and with each other.
Walk together, children, and we won’t get weary. I hope that you will join us along the way.