He simply made his way out of his home, as the darkness was descending and hung a simply designed lantern on a long bracket in front of his home. He kept the glass highly polished. Every evening at the approach of dusk, he carefully lit the wick. People saw the light from a distance and when they walked in its light, found that it helped them to avoid sharp stones on the pavement.
It wasn’t long before others noticed the difference that simple light makes against the backdrop of darkness and they began to place lanterns in front of their, and soon Philadelphia recognized the need for street lighting…and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jesus said, (The Gospel of John) 5:14-16:
“You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
As we move past the one year mark of COVID-19, one of the lingering dark alleyways that we will need to walk through is that of social connection. We have been distant, isolated and quarantined, by law and by fear. However, as people, we are created for social connection. Even the most introverted among us need some connection with other living, breathing humans.
A simple way of bringing light into the social darkness that now exists, is through greeting. Yup. Greeting. How we welcome others, those who are familiar and those who are not, can and will bring brightness to the countenance of others, that becomes contagious. A warm smile, a kind-eyed disposition (they can’t see your smile behind the face mask, but they can see it in your eyes), and an unhurried posture wipes away the darkness of rigidity that has been built up and allows the light within others to likewise shine.
Try it today, as you walk around the neighbourhood, or the grocery store, or your office. Even in a virtual environment a simple genuine greeting communicates fidelity, partnership, value and mutual care. A warm greeting can transform a dark alleyway into a bright welcoming space for relationships to deepen and communities to become stronger.
Snow globes are also very intriguing. They don’t radiate light. They reflect light. They take light from an outside source and display it through their unique internal design. However, for the full effect to be appreciated, the snow globe should be shaken, stirred up before its beauty can truly be recognized.
The snow globe helps us to remember that we can help each other shine brighter. Once in a while we all need a little shake up, a little stirring in order to realize the unique beauty that we can reflect to others around us.
Encouragement is that nudge, that stirring or shaking that we can give to one another. To give courage is to build up and to strengthen. We give courage by coming alongside others, adjusting to their pace, listening to their hopes, goals and dreams; by asking simple questions of care, and helping to focus on the possibilities rather than obstacles. Giving courage moves people from settling to helping them to shine brightly.
Just like a snow globe, the giving of courage to another requires regular stirring. If done wisely it will allow them to gain confidence in their purpose and the strength to persevere in the face of despair and doubt. Almost effortlessly will they provide a unique glow that reflects their inspiration tempered by the uniqueness of their own distinctive design.
Who can you encourage?
Who encourages you?
Benjamin Franklin did not print up his own flyers. In his time, he did not parade down the streets of #Philadelphia declaring the wonder of his latest invention. He did not stand on a corner or attend a trade show and sell his lanterns to those who would come. He did not even start a build a better lantern program.
He simply went out, in front of his house, in the dark, and hung his lamp. Slowly, but surely, one, then another, then a group here and there, street lights could be seen all over Philadelphia and eventually throughout our continent. He simply let his light shine into the darkness and the landscape was forever changed.
The brightest lights in the world are those that shine in the sky, night after night. They are constant and consistent radiant display placed against a backdrop of utter blackness. We, you and I, can shine like those stars, by being aware and addressing the needs of those around us. Serving another person, moved by compassionate love for their well being.
But we often make excuses that fail to bring light to the darkness that we know exists. Here are some excuses we make for not serving:
- We don’t have enough time.
- We’re waiting for the right time.
- We think we don’t have enough to offer.
- We fear the unknown.
- There’s so much need, which cause/person do we choose.
- We don’t think we’re needed.
- We tried before and it didn’t work out.
- We don’t think we can make a difference
- …. (feel free to add some more)
In the New Testament book of Philippians (2:1-15), we read of the humble and servant minded example of Jesus Christ, and the encouragement to consider the needs of others before our own. Aligning our lives with Jesus and this truth, avails us of the divine capacity to shine like the stars in the night sky. Consistent and humble service that elevated others brightens our homes, neighbourhoods and communities.
Light shatters darkness every time.
Our world needs light.
Stop making excuses. Watch for your opportunity to serve….shine bright.