Darkness gets our attention a little more this time of year, doesn’t it? We recently had the longest night of the year. All the pretty Christmas lights have been put away, leaving the darkness unchecked. In some locations, we go for days without seeing much sunshine. We miss the light.
Lately, we’ve also slipped into an extra layer of darkness. We’ve been touched by school shootings that leave us feeling vulnerable and lost. It’s as though a darkness has seeped into our spirit, settled in our souls a little bit.
But it’s not all about darkness. We also hear talk of light. Many celebrated a Christmas holiday that reminds us how people in darkness have seen a great light. We celebrate someone who summoned us to be the light of the world.
Don’t wait for someone else to provide the light. Be the light. Accept the challenge to act like one of the stars in the sky that gives sailors a point of reference to navigate the dangerous sea and reach port safely.
First, remember that light doesn’t judge or direct. Rather, it illuminates. It allows us to see ourselves and our world more fully. It enables us to change our perspective where we need, to take a different course than the one we’re on if it misses the mark.
Show the world compassion rather than indifference, love rather than judgment, inclusion rather than condemnation, healing rather than harming, sharing instead of hoarding, forgiveness in place of revenge. Look for injustice and try to change it. Care for the poor, the weak, the hurting, the defenseless, the overlooked. Live as though we’re all equally God’s children.
It’s not always popular to be a light. Not everyone cares for it. Many try to sleepwalk through life with eyes closed, choosing not to see those bleeding by the side of the road. Others try to perpetuate the darkness because it provides cover for their self-important plans.
Don’t worry that you are only one light. Remember, all it takes is one fixed point in the sky for a sailor to navigate. One beam from a lighthouse can help a ship avoid the rocky shore.
Patience and perseverance are needed. It takes time to change perceptions, to question long-held beliefs, to get people to move away from selfishness toward a common good.
This month, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who embraced the challenge to be a light. He understood that the arc of history, though long, bends toward justice. Those who work for justice become the beacons for change. Each day, they reach up with both hands, grab the arc and pull as hard as they can, trying to bend it a little bit more. And as they do, they feel another set of hands on top of theirs, the hands of Someone who is always pulling with them. Especially in those dark moments.
Post by guest blogger Joe Kay, a writer living in Cincinnati, Ohio.