On these winter days, the first thing I do upon rising is turn on a light so I am able to safely navigate around my room and downstairs to retrieve my first cup of coffee. This week, during the huge storm that battered the east coast of the USA, one of the more stunning pieces of news concerned the island of Nantucket, just off the coast of Massachusetts. The report that “the whole island went dark” was stunning – as if it disappeared into the ocean, totally invisible and immobilized until generators, flashlights and candles were called into service. I had an actual visceral reaction to that total darkness and understood in a new way why we use the word as a metaphor for deeper ways of the inability to see. “Stumbling around in the dark” is difficult for those accustomed to the ubiquity of electric and other lights, but stumble we do if caught off-guard or in unfamiliar terrain.
This morning’s readings offer two references to light to which we ought to pay attention. The gospel acclamation from psalm 119 says, “A lamp to my feet is your word, a light to my path. Alleluia!” Having a flashlight or torch to help avoid tree roots and rocky crevices in the dark woods is a relief. Even more important is the conviction of the companionship of God as we walk in those tricky and treacherous environs. The second reference (MK 4:21) is a question that calls us to responsibility to that light. Jesus asks his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?” The easy answer would be “Of course not” if he were really talking about a lamp, but he is obviously hoping that they catch his deeper meaning.
There are so many ways each day to be mindful of the light of God in our midst: my bedroom light switch, the candle that accompanies my morning meditation, the light in the eyes of the happy people I’ll meet today…As I’ve been writing, the dawn has come, slowly but deliberately to light up New York state. So my question to myself today is this: what is the light that God has ignited inside me that I need to uncover and offer to the world?