“Let your light shine,” says Jesus.  Let it shine.

That’s not about being blithely upbeat and “happy” all the time.  Light doesn’t deny that darkness exists.  It does, though, insist on showing up as a flicker, a glow, a steady beam.  Even a full sun, once in a while.

Letting light shine implies that we often allow things to obscure the light of God, the light of compassion, the light of joy and justice and love and mercy within us.  I became painfully aware of that light obscured in my own life this week.

I don’t know if this has happened to any of you: over the last several months I’ve felt increasingly numbed by the waves of crisis and violence around us that seem to never abate.  After the shooting in Uvalde, Texas I found myself deeply troubled that I was not even crying.  It felt inhumane, it felt even a little sinful, to not shed tears over such loss and pain and terror.  Something, I knew, had gone very wrong in my spirit.  Over several months (perhaps even years) a sense of being overwhelmed and numb had me fully in its grip.  This worried me.  So I set out to invite tears into my life again, to release them from whatever knot of despair and darkness had them bound.  To release a sign of love, compassion, solidarity, and humanity from the grips of death and complacency.

So here is what I did.  First, I set aside some time.  Time to let myself cry and mourn and lament.  And then I spent some of that time reading about the individuals who died in Uvalde.  Read biographical sketches.  Looked at pictures.  Spent some time remembering that each of them had a vital life beloved by the Creator.  And, thank God, the invitation worked.  Tears emerged, slowly and softly.  My heart had not turned into stone.  An important sign (to me) of carrying compassion and Light was still present.

Now…I’m not saying that you need to do what I did.

I am saying that this week’s news made me aware that my own light wasn’t just hidden under a basket; my lack of tears told me that the light of love and compassion and caring within me was in danger of getting entirely locked behind solid walls.

And that light was stirred and strengthened by remembering the lights that others carried.  My light was stirred and strengthened by making time to reconnect with it, and with its presence in others.

“Let your light shine,” says Jesus.  Let it shine.

Countless things get in the way of that: busy-ness, fear, lack of community, old baggage, comfort zones, denial, weariness.  Perhaps even a sense that our itty-bitty lights don’t matter amid darkness. (It helps to remember that Jesus believes our lights matter).

These are times that ask us to figure out what obscures the light of the Divine within us, to examine what blocks the light of compassion, the light of joy and justice and love and mercy within us.  Then we can find ways to connect to the Source, to fuel and nurture our lights, to make a way for the light of God within us to shine at least a little more clearly and steadily.  This takes time.  And persistence.  And trust.  And intention.

And it will emerge, this light.  A light magnified when we come together.  The light of Christ afoot in the world.  A light that blesses the world, if we let it.  A light that Jan Richardson seeks to strengthen with this blessing:

Blessed are you

who bear the light

in unbearable times,

who testify to its endurance

amid the unendurable,

who bear witness

to its persistence

when everything seems

in shadow

and grief.


Blessed are you

in whom the light lives,

in whom

the brightness blazes—

your heart

a chapel,

an altar where

in the deepest night

can be seen

the fire that

shines forth in you

in unaccountable faith,

in stubborn hope,

in love that illumines

every broken thing

it finds.

Receive this blessing.  Connect with the light of Christ within, even in times that seem dark.  Let it shine.

~Rev. Ruth Moerdyk

Matthew 5:14-16