You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. — Matthew 5:14
When I was a little girl, my parents packed us into their old, red Datsun mini station wagon and traveled north from Denver to Casper.
I don’t know how many times we made that trip to my grandparents’ house, or how many times we drove those hours at night. At eight years old, squished with my brothers in the back seat , the drive (which might be just four hours) seemed an eternity. Even with my dad singing cowboy songs.
Miles and miles of darkness. No highway lights. No inside car lights. No light-up games. We floated through space.
Lone beacons in midnight fields, like bright stars, reached out with comfort — and questions.
Who would live so far out in the nothing? Wouldn’t they be lonely? Where would they go to school?
Someone chose this solitary place. A rancher, maybe, with a thousand head of cattle. An oilman with a hundred wells. A lineman, quiet and content with the company of tumbleweeds . . .
More than an hour from the first sight of city lights, through town and out again, into the dark countryside once more, was a country school in the middle of nowhere where my grandparents were caretakers.
Noisy vibration of wheels hitting cattle guards jostled me awake. A floodlight on a lonely road marked our destination.
Into the driveway, around the school, we coasted toward light pouring through the windows of my grandparents’ house, inviting us out of the cramped car onto the lawn and into the glow.
I can still smell the cotton sheets of the bed grandma had made up and waiting. Stretching my legs under the covers, I drifted into darkness again — the feel of the road in my limbs as the journey replayed behind closed eyelids.
This quiet home — a light, far from town, a shining dot on a dark landscape — was Grandma and Grandpa’s house. A place of wide open spaces and adventure and cousins and giant sprinklers and stories and jeep rides on scary back roads and arrowhead hunts and a refrigerator full of name-brand soda in cans.
There is a place for solitary light. A reason to live in the darkness between here and there.
* * * * *
I wonder how long we will live along this dark highway. . . in the daily-ness of nurturing, guiding, growing, of learning to be faithful in small things.
Because sometimes, I wrestle with the limits of my little light.
Sometimes, I am reduced to flickering –– a candle wick bent, weary, drowning in wax. And I begin to envy the power of the luminous city, of the brightness that cannot be hidden. And I become a lamp, out of oil, puffing stinky smoke . . .
Sometimes, I want to pack up and leave the quiet place. To find significance as part of a big thing . . . cars drive past in a hurry from here to there . . .
But somewhere, in the middle of the night, someone is searching. And a small light will illuminate his steps, even if just one step at a time.
On the journey through darkness, a solitary light marks the way: Keep going, you are almost there.
A solitary light gives comfort: Traveler, you are not alone.
A solitary light gives courage — It’s possible to live in the middle of nowhere for a very long time.
Even a solitary light holds back the night. Even a glowing ember can be revived. And a dimly burning wick He will not quench.
This is the light God gave me.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16
Sometimes a city, set on a hill. Sometimes a lamp, on a stand. Sometimes a flickering candle. But always light. Always and ever dependent on the Father of Lights for filling to fight against consuming darkness.
. . . there is a purpose for solitary light. A reason to live in the darkness between here and there.
* * * * *
Since through God’s mercy, we have this ministry, we do not lose heart . . . .But we have this treasure, this light, in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:1,6-8)
In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.
― Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
a dimly burning wick He will not quench. (Isaiah 42:3)
* * * * *