On Christmas morning, I awoke with a simple old chorus in my head. It’s not a Christmas carol. It’s not even a particularly catchy tune, especially without the harmonies. The song simply declares that Jesus is my rock. My fortress. My deliverer. The one in whom I trust. As I sat in the early morning darkness enjoying the twinkle of the lights on our tree, I wondered whether I really needed anything more.
I kept watching those lights.
The room in which our Christmas tree stands has south-facing windows. As the sun rose on what would turn into the mildest December 25th in my memory, it flooded the space with glorious sunlight (revealing, to my chagrin, the dust on every surface). Little by little, the lights on the tree were overpowered by one much brighter. On a sunny day, it makes no difference whether the lights on our tree are on or off. You can’t even tell.
Only with nightfall can you see the lights. The deeper the darkness, the brighter they shine. The warmer their glow. The more they reveal.
Maybe you’ve always felt like a tiny Christmas tree bulb on a Vegas strip. As though what you have to offer pales in comparison to what’s being sold by others more gifted, more vocal, more beautiful. You may think your little light makes no difference.
Until those dazzling lights dim.
This pandemic is a dark time on our planet. Social workers and law enforcement officers (we have one of each among our children) tell me that incidents of domestic violence are more frequent than ever. In some cities, people are dying from drug overdoses as often as from Covid-19. Mental Health issues run rampant, and many of our health care providers feel they cannot carry on.
Meanwhile, my mother and her neighbors tell me they’ve never experienced such an outpouring of kindness, generosity, and community as they have in 2020. Altered priorities appear to be the new normal. One poll I heard about said that while the number of people who plan to eat healthier in 2021 is down from other years, the number who plan to donate to charities is up. Could it be that we are shifting our focus away from ourselves and onto others whose needs are greater than our own?
Events like a pandemic tend to bring out both the worst and the best in people. Which will it be for you? Will you contribute to the darkness by complaining, criticizing, lashing out?
Or will you shine your light in the darkness—providing hope in big and small ways, wherever and however you can? No one can place restrictions on your prayers, your encouraging words, your gratitude, your smile, your kindness.
The darker the night, the more effective the light.