We Need More Light
The first day after Daylight Saving Time ended, it got dark at 4:30. I sat at my desk, finally getting something done, aghast as the light faded. I went home in the dark feeing that it was midnight.
It seems unsurprising, somehow, that during these two months of gathering darkness, several major world religions have holidays centering around the meaning and hope of light. Diwali, Hannukah, Advent and Christmas, Bodhi Day, and winter Solstice celebrate light, illumination, and the hope for what we most need.
Yesterday, setting up for the Festival of Holiday Lights, the wind kept blowing them over, scattering candles, cups, and rocks we hoped would love them down. Over and over we righted them only to have them blown over and across the lawn. It felt a lot like 2020, our plans blown, scattered, taken apart. At this writing, as I pray for the wind to abate, I do not know how our festival of light will take place or if it will be more like “little fires everywhere.”
In this last full week of class, when our energy is waning, when we are scraping the bottom of the barrel, when we’re only holding ourselves together, when the wind is howling around us, I am both needing more light and doing my best to bring some. I am also thinking that I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I think we are going to make it all the way to the end of the semester, to do what they said we couldn’t do. The end of classes will signify success, a massive goal achieved, even if it is not the completion of the term. You can pat yourselves on the back. We can. Even if the wind blows down the luminaries.
We are not there yet, but it’s going to happen. The days are going to become longer. The sun is going to rise every morning. We are going to do our best to plan and then to respond when things go awry.
In honor of the season, in honor of light and our need for illumination, I am lighting a scented candle sometimes in my office as a reminder of light and hope, as a prayer, as an act of resistance against all the darkness that tries to encroach, as a sign of life, determination, and commitment. Part of my daily spiritual practice is to ask the Holy One, to make me light, to give me enough to share, and to let me be a transparent vessel for the Light that cannot be extinguished.
Here is the point. Every little spark is an honored gift to the Holy One, the keeper of Light. The light of our lives matters, even dim, sputtering, cranky, or tired. Your light matters. Keep bringing it, as small as it feels, putting it out there, picking it up again. Because lots of little lights make a big celebration, a neighborhood of light, and many little tiny flames do bring light.
If you haven’t got any more to give, no worries. Remember that your lives are light as they are. We need you. You matter. Your work, presence, and support makes us better. Your love, your smiling eyes above your mask warms and encourages us. You are light. Together we are going to make it to days of thanksgiving, rest, and more light.
Jan Fuller has been the University Chaplain at Elon since 2011. She is an Episcopal priest and deeply invested in helping students to find their own spiritual paths while interacting with others in differing paths with appreciation and respect.Raised in Beirut Lebanon for the first half of her life, Jan is the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries to the Arab peoples of the Middle East. Jan’s education includes a Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary,a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. in English and French from Hollins University. Jan describes herself as a “war-zone survivor,” who retains a sense of humor and love of gentleness. She loves Arab art and food, and all kinds of music. She intends to find the gift in every day and to live her life as a way of giving thanks.Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org