Flicker

The lights are flickering in an adjacent room. In the morning, during the staff meeting on the third floor, I can see them through the window dimming and rallying in my peripheral vision. 90 minutes of this, off to the side of discussion and debrief, debate even. Light disappears, light’s on again. Every time I fall for it. Every time I look, my brain tricked, attracted to what feels like motion.

Later, I don’t have to turn my head to see the fluttering lights during our Service for Healing happening in the second floor chapel, where wooden chairs are angled in rows that, for one side, direct worshipers’ gaze to an ominous corner of floor-to-ceiling windows and out onto Chestnut Street, but not before the mail room on the second floor of the adjoining building, where the fluorescent overhead light is dancing spasmodically.

I’m watching the lights. I don’t really want to watch the people in this service because it’s a service in response to sexual violence and it doesn’t feel right to pay close attention to people who came for such a service. I expect if I look up to see women, and women at this service probably aren’t here to have a man watch them.

So I watch the lights. Against a backdrop of dusk when the service starts their staccato routine is faint, but by the time worshipers begin milling about the space lighting candles and receiving oil to their heads and hands the lights are performing prominently. The movements and the music–the lighting!–of worship are all grace and delicacy. The electric stutter stealing my attention is neither.

 

 

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