Let Your Light Shine
What light shines in you? Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This message could not have been more apparent than one Saturday January when our congregation and community – nearly 550 guests – came together in memory of Carolynn Hawtin. The light was bright and shining. Our rector and other former rectors shared the impact that Carolynn had on St John’s over the years:
The Rev. Jimmy Bartz: When I listen to those words ascribed to Jesus, that Carolynn picked out, I can hear her saying the same to us. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. I am going ahead to prepare a place for you. In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” That’s certainly how she rolled. Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Let your light shine. What a witness, she gave us, too. Blessings—way, way, way too many to number. Blessings alongside grief that’s real, too.
Man, she was a love-spreader. She leaned way, way, way out toward love. Her light shined so brightly over the course of the last seven decades that it would warm us in the wintertime. Carolynn Hawtin was full to overflowing with love. You could see it. You could feel it. If Carolynn was in the room, love was in the room, too. And, thanks to God and thanks for God’s partner, Carolynn, love is STILL in the room. Carolynn is not, but love is.
The Rev. Ken Asel (Rector 2003-2015): Carolynn Hawtin, as well as Bruce, began to touch Devvie's and my lives from the moment we first arrived in Jackson on the 4th of July 2003. Hers was the first face that lit up as she came toward us at the Jackson Airport. She welcomed us to her family gathering for the Music in the Hole symphony concert at the ball fields and made certain we met a host of people. Carolynn became our realtor, twice. More importantly, she became our friend. Her smile was warm and engaging. Her laugh could take over a room and silence conversation as people wanted in on the joke. She traded in her membership on the Search Committee and became Senior Warden. I found her counsel invaluable. She knew the stories of the parish that were important to honor. She translated me to the parish (and the parish to me). There were conversations she initiated, sometimes difficult ones, that helped the church take the first steps toward its renaissance that continues still. Along the way, she became a person I turned to often for advice, encouragement and renewal. What a gift to me to have been able to minister to generations of the Riggins extended family! She began her life on what is now the parish Green. She rests now in the Columbarium. She gives back and warms our hearts still.
The Rev. Frank Johnson (Rector 1981-2000): To my mind, Carolynn’s most significant contribution to St. John’s was during the late 1970s. It was a time of serious division, coupled by a leadership vacuum in the parish. Carolynn, barely over age 30 at the time, was elected to the vestry, and in fairly short order filled the leadership vacuum and successfully guided St. John’s through a dangerously turbulent time. Carolynn’s parish experience, leadership skills and calm, confident demeanor came into play during that critical time in our parish life. Carolynn’s presence among us was always a living representation of the continuity, inner-stability and abiding faith at the heart of St. John’s. When you’d see her, along with her mother Beulah Riggan, her aunt Carmen Lundy, and her sister Marilynn Mulliken, (along with occasional visits by Beulah’s mother and sister), you knew you were face-to-face with a spiritual force to be reckoned with!
So, there you are Carolynn. Whether you are up there, out there or in here, (and you are in all of those place) YOU are the love-spreading message during this season of Epiphany. You showed us how it’s done. We are now carrying your baton and keeping your flame. We’ll make sure this valley is smothered in love on your behalf, and on ours, and on God’s.