Shining a Light
Among the lessons given in church today was told the story of the lower light. It is a smaller light on the shoreline which (in a world before GPS) was used in conjunction with the lighthouse to help ships navigate to safe harbor. A story was told of how failure to keep the lower light burning nearly led to disaster. Then a rendition of Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy (#335 in the LDS Hymnal) was played. Something in the stories and song spoke to me. It did so despite the my automatic emotional shield which goes up any time I sense that I’m about to be told a tragic story from which we should all learn a lesson. I like to pick my own lessons, thanks. I like to discover them for myself rather than being told what they ought to be. Yet the idea of being a light to others spoke to me. We are all commanded to be lights to others. I can think of dozens of people who have been so for me. They are people who taught me how to be a friend, how to parent, how to think about injustice, how to make the world a better place. They are people who live in my neighborhood, who write books I read, who I read about on the internet, who I pass in the grocery store. Most of them will never know how they have helped me or even who I am. Listening to the hymn, I felt that I need to be doing the same for others. The thing is that if I try to set up camp and show off my light, I’ll likely put it on some hill where it will do no one any good. I sent out a silent prayer, what is my light and where should I shine it? What will be most useful right now? Clear and calm, the answer was: write.
I imagine Heavenly Father as getting kind of tired with me lately, in much the same way that I get tired when I have to tell my kids to clean up after themselves. I keep saying it over and over, in a dozen different ways. I give them instructions, I order, I plead, I cajole. The actions involved are simple, yet somehow they find other things to do. Then one day a child comes to me and says “guess what? If I just pick up after myself things don’t get so messy.” Then I have to bite my tongue and be grateful the lesson was learned. Similarly, I find many good things to do which are not writing. At times those things are the way I shine my light. Last winter I was to finish my office remodel. This year every time I reach out to ask for direction I’m told to just go write. I’m beginning to imagine that instruction with an exasperated tone. So I should do that. I should write. I don’t know what the outcome will be. It is entirely possible that I’m just shining this light to illuminate my own path. From an eternal perspective lighting the path of a single person is sufficient reason to shine.
Funny how when I am struggling with large and difficult things, I pray for calmness and simplicity. When I’m given calm and simple instructions I wonder “that’s it?” and look for additional things to do. I have to remember that good works do not always require epic efforts. Time to pull out my book and increase the word count.
Comments are open on the original post at onecobble.com.