Lights Please

For some of us, March madness has little to do with basketball and more to do with a mild and (hopefully) temporary insanity due to lack of sunlight. One grey day rolls into another. For weeks—or months—on end. Our souls grow grey while our skin grows paler. Where are you, O Sun? We need you. If we think hard enough, we remember you.

Ever read Bradbury’s All Summer in a Day? I did in seventh grade English class and it’s haunted me ever since. It’s about a girl—Margot—who once lived on earth but now lives on another planet. She vaguely but longingly remembers this blazing sphere called the sun and tells her schoolmates all about its warmth and awesomeness. But they don’t believe her and/or are jealous. All they’ve know is grey. Margot’s insistent so they lock her in a closet. And just as predicted, the sun appears for one hour every hundred years and all the children, except for poor Margot, marvel at it, tip their faces toward it, until greyness returns and they remember Margot, locked and crying in the closet, and they let her out. But of course it’s too late. She’s missed it. It’s an awful, awful story which means Bradbury did something right. I’ve never managed to shake the narrative nor the sense of injustice it provoked.

It doesn’t happen every year, but this year Doug and I had the chance, the gift, of soaking up some sun. I know the longing that ensues when viewing pictures of friends in the sun when you so desperately want to be there yourself, that strange duality of living vicariously through Facebook posts and hating them.

So I’m sorry, for real, if you did not get a break from Wisconsin or Minnesota or whatever grey state you live in but… the sun. I could not get enough of it. Even when my arms were tight from burn and my nose hopelessly red, I couldn’t deny the sun. I had to walk, sit, lay under it. I seriously forgot how glorious it is. I forgot how a direct shot of vitamin D is so infinitely better than the gummy kind we pop in our mouth from October to May. We literally could not stop talking about the sun. We talked about it every day. We marveled at it like the school children living on a foreign planet and we tipped our faces to it and thrust out our limbs and drank sunlight into every pore.

Keep the faith, my friends. The sun will return to us, even here in Wisconsin. These grey skies will be wonderfully interrupted by light.

The only thing that conquerors darkness is light. Darkness fighting darkness only adds to the darkness. The sunrise, the oil lamp, the struck match, these are what pierce darkness. The kind word, the hidden act of service, the gentle truth, streaks of direct light in a dark world.

I, like you, can forget to fight darkness with light. My human impulse is to fight darkness with…. well darkness of another kind. Maybe a lighter shade of grey but darkness nonetheless. But we don’t need any more darkness; we were called to be light. And we desperately need more light. More praying than complaining, more encouraging than gossiping, more listening than speaking, more humility than pride. We need lots and lots more light.

As a student recently reminded me, it’s usually better to be kind than right. A yelling match can go on and on until the Spirit whispers for us to shut up already. Be the light.

Light is glorious. Light beckons, draws, entices.

Listen:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths. (Job 24: 13)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5: 14-16)

To be the light we must drink in the light. And when the sun appears, tip your face heavenward. Drink that in too.

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