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.