Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
Darkness is one of her greatest fears. The other night, as soon as we started to put on coats to go out to eat, I could see the worry forming in her eyes.
“Pick me up,” she begged in a near panic. She’s slayed numerous monsters and fears since she first arrived on my front porch almost a year ago. But, this dread of darkness lingers. So, I picked her up, and while we walked to the van, I talked about the stars and how they are stronger than the darkness.
Light always wins, I say.
She’s heard it before, maybe she even understands it at some level in her young mind, but it hasn’t yet released her fears. Darkness is still there, still menacing and hiding some scary person just around the corner; and, it’s true - darkness covers many things.
But darkness never covers light.
Then, later on in the week, my ESOL class was discussing the Hindu festival of Diwali, often called the Festival of Lights. We are reading Blue Jasmine by Kashmira Sheth, a novel about an Indian girl who moves to Iowa City, Iowa. As I researched Diwali in preparation for class, I was in awe at the pictures I found online - the displays of light, the designs, the gathering of so many little lamps in what was the "darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika" (Wikipedia).
Most of all, I loved this line about Diwali, from Wikipedia: “The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.”
European Pressphoto Agency. Devotees lit oil lamps ahead of Diwali, Bhopal, Oct. 28.
When I read those words and saw the pictures of Diwali, my heart nodded in agreement. I wanted to slip into the pictures, stand beside the people, reach my hands out, and start lighting up the night. Maybe partly for my little girl - an act of a mama bear defending her cub who needs to see the truth about darkness: light always wins.
I wanted to join the beautiful uprising, as it seemed, against the powers of darkness that bully her and all of us.
Because light is infinitely powerful. At the start of it all, God's words released it into being. What came out in language materialized into particles, when His unheard voice called out, "Light."
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4
He saw it was good, and He separated it from the darkness. And still today, it's a wonder to see the contrast of light pushing back the black of night, a darkness-dividing act with echoes of creation.
But, maybe what moved me most about Diwali this week is this: it's like a community of lights, raised up with shared hope and inspiration. How powerful and beautiful is the display of many lights, as a unified resistance to the darkness. Tiny flame after tiny flame flickering together as they mock the menacing ways of the dark.
It's like a holy rebellion of hope-seekers and glory-chasers. It's a rebellion led by those of us who carry His light in our souls.
It's a rebellion I want to join. And you?
Maybe we don't have eyes to see the heavenly designs we form, as we sit in coffee shops, drive down freeways, teach classes, and lead meetings. But, friends, we are children of the Light, and together we form Christ-honoring pictures more stunning than the most intricate Diwali designs.
So, fellow Light-lovers, shine on today. Reach out hands in love, flavor words with grace, stand against the injustices, and always bow before His majesty. Choose harmony instead of hate, humility instead of posturing, beauty instead of destruction. Embrace peace, art, music, friendship, family, community, and every light-filled, life-giving expression of God’s heart.
For, these earthly expressions of divine light proclaim that evil will never succeed in its oppressive mission.
Darkness can’t defeat us; it can only enhance the Light within us.
After all, "light always wins," as I keep telling my girl. Darkness always loses its ground at the presence of light, whether it's constellations of stars or congregations of souls.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12