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We need ‘Lights of Love’ during a dismal time

The Rev. Rebecca Taylor

It’s hard to keep secrets in the snow.

Footprints large and small, human and animal appear with great clarity. Differences become well defined: boots leave tracks distinct from athletic shoes and coiled “x”s are sure signs of slip-on grippers. Miniature skis indicate a rabbit’s path while the padded ovals of paws betray the travels of dogs of all sizes. The hooves of deer leave easily identifiable prints, as do the tires of a bicycle entwining a sidewalk like ribbon. A name etched in the slope of a yard belies one who passed by and a gathering of birds can appear as the impressions of a fork in freshly baked peanut butter cookies. Careful examination can assure you of the mail carrier’s delivery or of the newspaper’s arrival. In the pithy wisdom of Yogi Berra, “you can observe a lot just by looking.”

And much of what can be observed doesn’t require a lot of guesswork. It’s hard to keep secrets in the snow.

Some people are as easy to “read” as the markings to be found in the snow. You just know. They don’t require a lot of guesswork. Their character is evident in their mannerisms. Their passions are as subtle as a fireworks display. Their nature is on display as they encounter others of their kind. They don’t need to use words. You know where they stand. You know what they stand for. You sense the roads they have traveled, the sufferings that have shaped them, the insecurities that drive them. You just know as you do when you observe the evidence to be seen in the snow.

There’s something to be said about being forthcoming rather than secretive. About taking a stand. About standing for something. We had numerous opportunities last year to witness gatherings of people whose passions erupted like fireworks in the face of perceived injustice and in the wake of violence. Sadly, most gatherings were marked by only more violence and destruction. Is it possible to take a stand quietly, peacefully? Would others observe just by looking?

That is the hope of the congregation I serve. I extend an open invitation to all to take a stand quietly and peacefully on a Friday evening just a few weeks away. Members of First Presbyterian Church are organizing a vigil of support in the dismal darkness of this pandemic. The idea is to simply take a stand. Be a visible witness. There’s no program, no agenda. It’s just an opportunity to embody the words, “We’re in this together.”

COVID-19 has taken loved ones from us. It has caused suffering and anxiety. It has altered our lives. It has taxed medical workers and first responders. It is leaving an indelible mark on our community. Our hope for “Lights of Love: A Community Vigil of Support” is that we may express our connectedness to others of our kind. That we can shine the light of love into the darkness of despair. That we can be moved to tears and to deeper commitment to minimizing the impact of this virulent virus. On Feb. 19, bells will ring for 19 minutes beginning at 1900 hours — 7 p.m. We hope participants will line both sides of Market Street from Second to Fifth and both sides of Fourth from Liberty to East to be a visible witness in the heart of our community.

So arrive before 7 p.m. Bring a flashlight or cellphone. Pick up a candle at First Presbyterian Church if you prefer. City leaders are on board. So let’s not keep our support, our care, our appreciation, our grief secret. Let it show as if in the snow!

Rebecca Taylor is pastor at the First Presbyterian Church. She can be reached at rebecca@presbyterianwarren.com

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