Thursday, March 5, 2009

How Hard It Is to Keep the Light Lit

Last night, we had a brief service before we walked the labyrinth. I chose two Bible passages: Psalm 1 and the passage from Matthew that talks about our call to be the light of the world.

I haven't been feeling too much like the light of the world lately. I've been craving a nap for about a week solid. I'm in one of those work periods where we have lots of meetings, lots of 10-12 hour days. I feel fortunate to still have a job, but I'm wishing it came with a napping couch.

Last night, after I read the Bible passages, we lit candles in tall jars to take with us to the labyrinth. It was windy, so we didn't bother to set up the labyrinth with candles--experience has taught us that the candles won't stay lit.

It was tough keeping the candles lit even when we carried them. I cupped my hand over the flame, but the first moment that I was distracted from my task of keeping the little flame lit, it blew out.

I think that only one of us (out of about 11 walkers) had a lit candle when we were done.

At first, I felt searing guilt over my inability to keep the flame lit. And then I thought about the experience as a metaphor.

In that passage from Matthew, chapter 5, verses 14-16, Jesus tells us that we are to let our light shine, but he doesn't tell us how hard it will be some days. As a child, I always thought that once the light was lit, the hard part was over. I would just shine and shine and not hide my light under a bushel and not let Satan pfff it out (as that old song goes).

How do we keep our light from going out? I suspect it's in the various disciplines that we adopt to strengthen our spiritual lives: praying, reading the Bible, reading other spiritual literature, fasting, tithing, charitable giving, working for social justice, practicing gratitude, noticing the wonders of the world.

It's important to realize that we can't keep our lights lit if we see this activity as a weekly duty. I suspect that even a once-a-day duty isn't enough. We need to develop disciplines that reorient us throughout the day. We need to build in breaks throughout the day to attend to our wicks and lights.

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