It was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and Paul and I had been married a little over a year. One night we took Paul’s mom out to ride around and show her some of the lights and decorations in our neighborhood and one house in particular.
I’m pretty sure NASA could see this house from space. There could not have been more than 2 inches anywhere on that house or yard that was not covered in lights. Paul and I were as enchanted as kids might be with such a display. However his mother had a very sophisticated sense of style and was less than captivated, but she said she appreciated his “enthusiasm”.
Of course, as new homeowners we were excited to decorate our own house and start our own traditions. I purchased some of the outdoor lights that are in a net style so you can throw them over the shrubbery, and they look very uniform. I think they must have been defective though because very soon half of them were on, while the remainder were dark - leaving our yard looking like we had paid only a portion of the power bill that month.
That memory came flooding back when I saw something at church the other week. Along the entrance to the church there is a string of cute patio lights. Everyone was told to take a bulb from inside the church and add it to the strand outside with the name of someone you are going to pray for. The message behind this: Be the Light.
It made me start thinking of light, and its place in our lives. Formal dinners usually include candlelight; we set off fireworks for big, noisy celebrations; little kids and adults alike, joyfully blow out candles on birthday cakes; when a loved one is expected home, we leave a light on, and it seems almost every decoration for Christmas has some kind of light involved in its design.
Unless the power goes out, light is something we tend to take for granted, but it is a big part of our lives. It gives us a sense of safety, a sense of warmth and comfort. When we are happy we talk about feeling a lightness. When times are tough, we talk about brightening someone’s day.
Things in today’s world are bleak. There is so much suffering from war, political divisions, violence, illness, both physical and mental; it is difficult to not get pulled down into despair by it all. To rise above and stay positive takes effort, but in the beginning, it takes an awareness. Are we riding the current of negativity or are we fighting against it to spread love and light? It is a conscious decision.
There is a Methodist benediction that I love. As the congregants stand to be dismissed, there is usually a small child leading the way, holding a long candle lighter holding a flame, as the preacher issues a blessing to “Go forth and carry the light of Christ into the world.”
Although I’ve heard it in a Methodist, or Christian church, the imperative is there no matter if your belief system is Buddhism, Judaism, Muslim, Hindu, or any other. I believe this simple decree should be a universal reminder to carry light into the world. Be the Light.