My great-grandmother was Eliza Jane Moore. She emigrated from County Armagh, Ireland to the United States in 1888. Such a lovely name–Eliza Jane. In 1891 she marries another Irishman, James Gibson. They have five children. 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 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. Endures unrelenting deaths, accompanied by grief and loss.
Her eldest child is Margaret, my great aunt, who never marries, has no children and lives 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. She was said to wash and bleach their linens whiter and brighter than anyone else had ever done.
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 the Father affirming His love for His only Son Jesus. Mark records that Jesus’ ‘…clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them’ (v.3).
Jesus lightens our load of guilt and shame. We live in a dark world, one made not a bit brighter by sin. Jesus will help us see ourselves as we are. That same light will cleanse, disinfect and illumine. In Jesus, we’ve never looked so good! In His hardworking hands, we’ll shine forever!
Thank you, Jesus, for being our light and life. Amen.