My maternal great-grandmother was Eliza Jane Moore. She emigrated from Derryhale, Portadown, County Armagh, Ireland to the United States in 1888. She was my mother’s favorite relative. Such a lovely name–Eliza Jane. In 1891 she marries another expatriate Irishman, James Gibson. They have five children but only two live to adulthood. One son dies of rheumatic fever at 14 months. Another succumbs to smallpox at age four, while yet another with some kind of tumor at age 15. After celebrating 10 years of marriage, James also dies of smallpox.
Life floods with challenges for Eliza Jane. In a matter of twenty short years, she has left her Irish family and homeland forever. Endures an unrelenting string of deaths, accompanied by persistent grief and loss. Maybe all the heartache led to her own death at age 55.
Her eldest child was Margaret, my great aunt, who never married, had no children and lived weeks shy of her 103rd birthday. She spoke proudly of her mother, Eliza Jane, who made ends meet by taking in laundry from wealthy homeowners in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was said to wash and bleach their linens whiter and brighter than anyone else had ever done. So bright you could only glance at them but for a moment for the intensity of light!
I think of Eliza Jane when I read Mark chapter 9. The story of Jesus’ transfiguration. He’s changed in appearance, talks with Moses and Elijah, and hears the voice of God the Father affirming His love for His only Son, this same Jesus. Mark records that Jesus’ ‘…clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them’ (v.3). Whiter and brighter!
Jesus, the Light of the World, lights our lives and our pathways. Lightens our load of guilt and shame. We live in a dark and soiled world, one made not a bit brighter by our own sin. Jesus, through our faith in Him, will bring state-of-the-art light into our lives. We’ll see ourselves as we are. That same light will cleanse, disinfect and illumine …our hearts and minds for Him. In Jesus, we’ve never looked so good! In His hardworking hands, we’ll be clean and bright and shine forever!
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for working light and life eternal into our hearts. All because you love us. In your name. Amen.