When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
When I was a girl, there was a Gulf Oil Gas Station between our house and our church. Because we were at church almost every day of the week and my mother drove a huge car, we often frequented that gas station. I credit my love for sixlets to that gas station owner who made sure my sister and I got a plastic wrapper of those candy-coated chocolates while we waited for our car to be filled with gas (by the service station attendant who always made sure we also had a clean windshield and air in our tires). His tasks gave me plenty of time to contemplate the saying painted, the size of a billboard, on the side of the station, “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” The quote was credited to a Chinese proverb though staunch Democrats of whom there were many in town in the early 1960s might have credited it to John F. Kennedy. Though the quote was first written in 1907 by a preacher named William L. Watkinson, JFK used a similar version, “We are not here to curse darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us thru that darkness to a safe and sane future,” in his acceptance speech for the 1960 Presidential nomination. If ever there was a time that we needed a “guide thru the darkness to a safe and sane future”, it is now. The world seems to be imploding with clowns determined to start wars we (or our ancestors) have already fought. I am enough of a church mouse to still believe that God can rescue us, but maturity has brought me, along with an expanding waistline, a dose of skepticism. Or maybe it is understanding and reality. God still creates burning bushes and raises from the dead, but He also works through the least likely saints so I am not off the hook when it comes to being that candle. I can sit on my duff afraid of the dark or I can let the fire of injustice burning within me propel me to be a light. Last night, I lit a candle and put it on my front porch in honor of Heather Heyer, the woman killed in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was at the rally because as her friends said, she was quick to “stand up for the disenfranchised.” Those who knew Heather are asking “What would Heather do?” In answer, they know that to honor her and to keep her death from being in vain, they will “preach love and equality.” While I didn’t know Heather, I do know Jesus Christ who had a very similar message encouraging His followers to be kind to the stranger, love their enemies, and care for the poor. A long time ago, a little girl eating candy puzzled over how a light could curse the darkness. It is becoming clearer and clearer that my light and yours are needed urgently before the darkness takes over.