Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Let me be light

The weather is going to get colder apparently over the next week or two - - we’re going to be back to cold nights and frosty mornings, and maybe a bit of snow.

We’ve escaped quite well so far, so I guess we cannot complain too much….
On one hand, it’s going to get colder but, on the other hand, we’re past the longest night so it’s actually getting lighter.

Now we can’t really notice it’s getting lighter yet – and it still feels very much like winter – but each night it gets darker a minute or two later, and it gets lighter a minute or two earlier each morning.

The changes are so slight that you don’t notice them at first. But over time, we realise that we are living more and more in the light.

And I guess that’s a good hope for us as people of faith as well….
Each day, living more and more in the light.

Dramatic conversions might not last, but a steady, maturing faith is one that will endure.

I like to think that if I look back at my spiritual journey I could conclude that I’ve come to live more and more in the light.

It's an ongoing process...

These new energy saving light bulbs that we all use now take a bit of time to reach their full brightness. When you first switch them on, they can appear quite dull but, after a while, get lighter and lighter.

I think it’s the same with our faith: over time the light gets brighter and we learn how keep going. Things that may have shaken us years back we learn to take in our stride. But that can only come through a process.

Our Buddhist friends would talk about the journey towards ‘enlightenment’: that place where you are at one with yourself and the world, and where you feel that total spiritual connection.

Well, I can’t claim to have reached enlightenment. Indeed, there are still many times in my life when I don’t feel very spiritual at all. And it’s in those moments when the light shone by other people can help me:

The light for the world contained in the scriptures.
The light I see in the example of great spiritual teachers.
The light that I see being brought into the world by simple acts of love and kindness.

Those things help to illumine the way for me.

Now, scientists tell us that light travels fast and can cover great distances. If you look into the sky at night then you we see the light of stars. In many cases, the star itself has long burnt out but the light has travelled so far that it’s only just reaching us.

And that seems quite an amazing thing to me: we are seeing light from something, but the source of it has gone.

I guess that’s why it is important to give thanks for those who went before us. Their example still lights the way for us, even though they may have long since passed beyond our sight.

I also love the poetry and imagery of the creation story in the Bible. Now, there aren’t many Unitarians who would take the story to be literally true but I love the imagery: there is swirling chaos and darkness all around until the moment the Divine voice says “Let there be light”.

Sometimes life feels a bit chaotic to me. I look at the list of things I need to do and my head begins to swirl a little. In those moments perhaps the best thing I can say is “Let there be light” too.

How do I approach my work so that it is done thoughtfully, prayerfully, and in the way that helps to illumine the way for those who come after me?

Sometimes people say to me “I remember you said this in a sermon, and I’ve never forgotten it.” Now, I’ve long since forgotten that I said it (!) but, somehow, it’s still giving light to another person – and for that I give thanks.

Perhaps a good prayer for us to say every morning is not “Let there be light” but “Let me be light”.

Let me live in such a way that I help others and, possibly, I might still be able to give light to someone after I’ve gone.

Let me live in a way that reflects the love and light of God.

May every day see us further on in our spiritual journey - - nearer and nearer to the Source of all Light and Life and Love.