Bookmark Theology


Somewhere between sixth grade and my freshman year in high school, I got a bookmark: metal, crescent moon shaped profile of a nose and mouth, a blue string tied to the top ( the kind of string that melts when you burn the ends). In tiny typewriter print, the same blue as the string, is a quote from Edith Wharton,

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

I picked the bookmark myself. I can’t remember if it was because I liked the moon, the blue or if it was because mom said I could get something and I wasn’t going away empty handed. It was probably all of those things, but I remember not liking the quote very much,

Who wants to be a mirror or a candle? If I had to choose… I’d be the candle… Duh.

The bookmark has held my place in a book exactly twice. Since then it has been collecting dust along with dozens of other things collecting dust on one of the best collage walls I’ve ever seen. As I am apt to do, I was studying my collage wall, lost in thought, and rediscovered this bookmark.

Dumb, I thought, I don’t even use this… don’t even like what it says. And so the little bookmark found it’s way into my little trashcan, but as it sat there, waiting to spend the rest of its days in a landfill, I thought more about the quote. Wharton’s quote is not meant to be theological, at least I don’t think it is, but Christians use lots of light/candle metaphors to explain Christ/the Spirit/our partnership in making disciples, so theology is where I went.

I don’t like the idea of God being a candle and Christians being a mirror. A candle and a mirror, or several individual candles from one big Candle, feels empty. Cavernous actually. I can’t give you a different metaphor because I don’t have one, but if I were to give you a metaphor it would be more about relationship. More about how God uses each of us to love each other into better versions of ourselves. And I’m using ourselves instead of Christ because I don’t know how achievable actually being Christ is, but I can do my best to love and to be relationship with Him and with others. For everything else…well…

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

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