These times we are living in are hard, aren’t they? Living through the last 12-months has sometimes seemed like a never ending ‘Groundhog Day’, and the current lockdown has seemed harder that previously due to fatigue and the weather not being so good.
It seems so dark, and I don’t just mean the still short days and long, long nights. There is a sense of ‘darkness’ that seems all-pervading at times, affecting everyone’s mental health and well-being. It’s harder and harder to get up in the morning, to be motivated for another day that seems just like every other day. And it’s cold. And it’s wet.
But there is something that we all too easily forget about darkness. Darkness isn’t actually a thing, it’s an absence of a thing. Darkness is an absence of light. Where there is light, darkness isn’t possible. It doesn’t exist.
Those of us with a faith might look towards verses in the Bible like this;
“Jesus spoke to the people again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness. They will have that light. They will have life.” John 8:12
and “All of you are children of the light. You are children of the day. We don’t belong to the night. We don’t belong to the darkness.” 1 Thessalonians Ch5 v 5
What ‘light’ looks like for each of us at the moment will be dependent on our individual situation and that of our family. It will be personal. But if we peer hard enough into the darkness, we might see a glimmer of light still burning. And if we encourage it, if we feed it, if we focus on it, it will grow brighter and drive the darkness away.
It might be that we see light in the smile of our child, or in the first glimpse of a snowdrop or crocus fighting its way out of the ground. We might see light in the joy of baking a cake that is actually edible, or in the sound of a blackbird singing as we take a much-needed walk. We might see light in the progress that our child is making in their development, maybe tiny little steps, maybe steps that would be bigger if they were getting the therapies that they would normally get, but steps never-the-less.
In hard times before, times of ‘darkness’, I’ve found that looking for these signs of light and focussing on them really helps. I read a book called ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Voskamp. In it, Ann encourages us to find three things each day that are good, three things to give thanks for, and to write them down. Sometimes it’s hard to find three things, sometimes the darkness is closing in and it’s hard to find the light, but look hard enough and it is there, look hard enough and we can all find three things to be grateful for. And if you write the three things down, I used a notebook for this, it only took a few moments at the end of each day, over a year you end up with one thousand gifts! One thousand positive things to look back on and be glad about. One thousand glimmers of light that come together into a blazing brightness!
It has helped me to be able to look back at my notebook, to read the brief notes that were the ‘gifts’ for that day. “James’ transitions were quicker today”, “We were able to get outside into the garden and enjoyed seeing that spring was coming”, “No seizures today”…
Maybe doing something like this would help you to see more of the light and less of the darkness. To give you a list of things to be glad and grateful for. To help you see that even on the darkest of days, there is something positive to cling to, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Light drives the darkness away. In time, spring will replace winter and longer sunnier days will come. In time, lockdown will end and we will be able to rebuild some kind of new normality again. But until then, let’s not stare into the darkness, but let’s look for the glimmers of light, and help them to burn brightly in our hearts!
For “God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” He made his light shine in our hearts. His light gives us the light to know God’s glory. His glory is shown in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
Text and image © Mark Arnold
New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
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This Little Light Of Mine