Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The season of light

"He separated the light from the darkness"
Genesis 1:4

I ate in the dark last week.  Don't ask.  I know, it's very strange, but there was a perfectly logical explanation.  At least, it's logical to me.  But it might not be for you, so you probably shouldn't even ask.  Unless you're someone who knows me, and understands me very well.  Then it will make sense to you.  But otherwise, nevermind.  Unless you're somewhat like me.   In which case, even if you don't know me very well, or at all, you'll probably understand.  But if you're not, then forget it.

So it was dark.  Fried chicken.  And some tortilla chips.  And water, which I brought myself.  But that's neither here nor there.  Have you ever tried to eat fried chicken in the dark?  It's a little tricky.  Cuz there's bones and stuff.  Ligaments or whatever.  Stuff you can't eat.  So you use your teeth to pull off the moist, juicy, delicious meat (am I making you hungry?) and then if you get a little piece of bone or tendon or ligament or gristle or whatever those things are that you can't eat ~ now you're not hungry anymore, right? sorry. ~ Anyhow, you just set those things  on the side of your plate.  But then, if you're not careful, you're liable to pick up one of these things, when you think you're picking up a tortilla chip or a little piece of chicken, and try to eat it, and find you can't.  

But I did okay.  Enjoyed the chicken, and the tortilla chips, and the water, which I brought myself.  But that's neither here nor there.   I did just fine eating my dinner in the dark, and here's why ~ I wasn't totally in the dark.  There was a streetlight nearby, and the lights of a couple nearby buildings.  I had the radio on in the car, and that was giving off a little light.  And the light that there was, kept it from really being dark.

See, darkness is a funny thing.  It's relative.  Generally speaking, no matter how dark it is, it could be darker.  I could have turned off the radio in my car, and lost the benefit of that light.  And what if the buildings I was near turned off their lights?  And then what if the streetlights went out?  Well, there would still be ambient light simply because I was in a city.  And if the city had a blackout?  Well, there still would have been stars.  So even though it seemed dark to me, I knew it could have been a whole lot darker, and I was grateful for the sufficient light I had.

I've only been in complete darkness a couple of times in my life, that I can remember.  Once, was camping.  I woke up in the middle of the night, and everyone had gone to bed.  There were no neighboring fires or lanterns or flashlights.  It was one of those moments where I couldn't even figure out where I was, but it only lasted a moment, and then my eyes adjusted enough to recognized the dark shape of my husband next to me in the dark tent.  So even that "complete" darkness wasn't "complete" once my eyes adjusted.

The other time was in a cave.  We'd done a bit of spelunking with a tour group, and when we were in there, the guide turned off the electricity in the cave.  Wow, was that dark.  I literally could not see my hand in front of my face.  It gave me a panicky feeling for a second ~ until I looked down at my watch.  The glow-in-the-dark face gave me some sense of depth perception somehow, which seemed to make a difference.  And then tour guide turned the lights back on before I really had the chance to see if my eyes would adjust to what seemed like total blackness.

A little light makes all the difference.  He knew that.  He knows that.  Do you?

In the United States, we are getting ready to celebrate "the holidays".  Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and New Year's Day.  And Hanukkah is in there, too, for the approximately 2% of Americans who are Jewish.  I know that many of you outside the U.S. celebrate Christmas, though your traditions may be different than they are in America.  And many of you may have a holiday similar to our Thanksgiving, but maybe not on the 4th Thursday in November.   At any rate, it's a busy time for most Americans.  There are parties with friends, and get-togethers with families.   There are also lines to wait in with complete strangers as we shop.   Any of these situations might prove to be stressful in a season in which we are also dealing with a full calendar, financial anxiety, less exercise and more junk food than usual. But if you are feeling all of that, then probably so is someone near you.

In a time of anxiety or stress, how dark is dark?  How much light can you bring to a dark situation?  Remember, it doesn't take much to make a difference.  And the light you bring to someone else will brighten your situation, too.

We're all different.  You might have the personality of a bright light ~ outgoing, friendly, exuberant.  But even if you are shy and cautious around strangers or groups of people, that might be just the gentle candlelight that someone needs.

Be the source of light in a situation, and though you might not even notice the darkness, someone around you will notice the difference.

~ "Live as children of light" ~
Ephesians 5:8

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