I just love outdoor festive lights. There is something about them twinkling in the darkness of winter days, when the earth seems to be sleeping and the new life of spring seems so far away. Two years ago, I persuaded my husband to leave them in place, because although the days had become longer, driving home from late meetings they made for such a cheerful homecoming. Which was fine until a bout of over-enthusiastic pruning saw me accidentally cut through the wires, and the lights were no more.
This year, with all the trauma and uncertainty, which has been its tragic hallmark, I wanted the lights to return. They did, until a local fox, seeing the food bag in which I had protectively enfolded the batteries and assuming it held – well, food – chewed through the wires. Back to square one. We bought more, managed to mend the first set, and not only restored the lights but doubled them.
These lights are only tiny, but they make a huge difference, a tangible reminder that ‘the Life-Light blazed out of the darkness, the darkness couldn’t put it out’ (John 1:5, The Message). Sometimes they become obscured by a falling leaf, but the others still shine. Yet if one becomes totally disconnected, the others too may fail, a reminder of the interconnectedness which is both reassuring and challenging. It is something we are even more aware of as we wear our protective masks or pay the price of physical distance to protect those we love. It does mean that if for a season, for whatever reason, my inner light is dimmed, I can trust others to shine for that season.
There are so many dark places, in the world where injustice, poverty and violence can threaten to overcome the light, and sometimes in our own internal worlds whether through our own actions and inherent selfishness or from the woundedness over which we have no control. Yet, still the One who brought light from formless dark chaos comes, offering with grace to shed light in the darkest of places, and reminding us that one day, when all is made right, God the Master will be all the light we need. (Revelation 22, The Message).
Until that day comes, we lean into the light when and where we find it, and hold on to hope for ourselves and others that it will indeed never be overcome.