Tag Archives: light

Winter Nights and Fairy Lights

There’s something fascinating and overwhelming about the dark at this time of year.  It’s still pitch black at seven when the alarm goes off and by the time I hear my daughter’s key in the door the daylight has already begun to drain away.  Day after day there’s a bit less light and a little more darkness. It can feel like the darkness is winning.  But then, even as we are drawing towards the shortest day of the year,  something beautiful happens.  People begin to rebel against the coming darkness… and drape their streets and homes with tiny lights.  Suddenly thousands of fairy lights twinkle through trees and across living room windows, all declaring that, against all evidence to the contrary, this is the time to celebrate –  light is breaking in!

It certainly makes me think about how you and I are called by God to shine out like stars in the sky.  Boldly resisting the oncoming darkness we can each choose to live in a way that allows a pinprick of God’s own light to break through into the world.

It’s also a picture of how we need each other.  One or two fairy lights don’t make a huge impact by themselves, but joined together in an orchestrated rebellion against the darkness? There’s something so captivating about that picture – Hundreds of thousands of tiny little twinkling lights in a sea of darkness, defiantly holding out the truth that the light has come, and the darkness has not overcome it.

As I’ve been contemplating this picture of fairy lights in a row, all connected to one another, I remembered our annual childhood ritual of checking every bulb in the string before we put them up.  Back then fairy lights were wired in series, individual lights that were interdependent, part of a greater whole.  Every last one had to be in working order and in place for them to light up, and there seemed to be a lot of time spent around our plastic seventies tree trying to work out which coloured bulb had slipped out of place or needed attention.

Of course the analogy doesn’t entirely hold up.  Sadly in many of our churches one or two or maybe many of us can slip out of place or get broken and no-one will notice until it’s too late.  So for me at least, this picture is a challenge to check on and check-in with my neighbours – the brothers and sisters in Christ that God has chosen to put me near.  Sometimes people need a bit of time to talk, to know that someone cares about what they’re going through, to know that someone has got their back.  Sometimes they need some help in getting some restoration in their relationship with God.  I have no doubt that being open about our own struggles and helping others by knowing and loving them well enough to hold them accountable is the only way we can be pure enough to shine out.

We’re in this together friends.  Let’s be a twinkling, joined-up, rebellion against the darkness.

The light will always win.

Celebrating the light

“No, not the nightlight Mummy!  Turn on the big light, the nightlight makes shadows

So runs the conversation with my seven-year-old at bedtime (nearly every night).

I’ve been thinking about that this week.  A little bit of light goes a long way to dispelling the darkness, but a 100 watt light bulb is much, much better.

Our world is full of little nightlights.  Little bits of God’s beauty and goodness breaking through in smiles, sunsets and hugs, in love, truth, joy and laughter.  Every single piece of goodness and beauty in our world is a gift from the heart of our heavenly father and it gets rid of much of the darkness.  But even the light of all those little night lights is not enough. It makes shadows.

This weekend a lot of people are, one way or another, celebrating the shadows.  I really, really, really don’t want to offend, but I won’t be. I know that making fun of the darkness takes way some of our fear of it.  I know that for most people it’s just lots of fun and pretending to be scared.  But I won’t do it… I can’t, I just want to look into and celebrate the light.

Because the truth is that turning on a 100 watt light bulb in your life is better than having nightlights and trying to train yourself to not be afraid of the shadows.

As Katie says “when you turn on the big light it’s different. All that darkness runs away, all at the same time and there’s no room left for any shadows”

So today, as every day I’m going to do my best not to hang out in the shadows, and I’m celebrating the light.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”

Happy victory-over-the-darkness day everybody – have a good one 😉

Tangerine lanterns

Have you ever made one of these? It’s actually terribly easy to cut around a tangerine or clementine, pull out the fruit and pop in a candle. As you can see, it makes a beautiful little lantern, with the added bonus of a sweet orangey aroma.

As I made the lantern with my sweet girl I learned a few things, and today I’m hearing the Spirit speaking through them…

One is that putting a light inside a tangerine peel makes it very, very beautiful. Something which I would ordinarily throw away, consider worthless, has its deep beauty revealed by the light that shines out from within it.

The second was that if you fit the two halves together and attempt to seal the light in, it is very quickly starved of oxygen and the flames go out. I needed to cut a hole in the top to make it able to keep burning. The hole iets some of the light and heat that the flame generates out without spoiling the gorgeous effect of the light breaking through the thin places (and the scars), and the flame stays alight.

We also realized, after we’d made our lantern, that to really appreciate it in all its glory we needed to carry it outside into the darkness and watch it glowing beautifully there.

You can probably already see how the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me through this picture.

It totally fills up my heart to think that God can use me to bring light and joy to others even (or perhaps especially) when I feel ready for the compost heap; it delights me to think that even those places where I’ve been deeply wounded can become beautiful as his light shines through them; and it’s good to be reminded that although without God I am not much to speak of, his light inside me can bring out deep beauty that might otherwise never be seen.

I’ll be thinking about those other things too..  About how it’s really not possible to have a hidden, private faith, concealed completely from the world because that hidden-ness would stifle the flame and perhaps even put it out. And also that places that are already full of light don’t always need a lantern or appreciate its beauty, and that there’s a good reason we are called to take that light out into dark places, however challenging that might be.

Whatever else, when I look at this picture, I am amazed at the transformation that takes place when the candle is lit, and I want to cry out to God to shine brighter inside of me, and to tell myself again never to be quietly conned into thinking I can do without him,  not even for a moment.

I don’t have anything to ask you to pray about this week, but I do have a challenge for you…

If you are in a part of the world where it’s possible to get hold of a tangerine, a box of matches and a tealight candle – make yourself one of these.  My painting really doesn’t do it justice, and seeing and smelling it will speak to your heart.  Then take it and sit with it in a dark place for a while and see how God speaks to you through it.  I guarantee it will be ten or twenty minutes well spent, and I would love to hear what he has said to you.

Be blessed.

tangerine lantern