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Racine, WI 53405

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Follow the Light

The story of Epiphany, of magi following a star and seeking hope in the form of a new king, is more than the cute scene that Christmas pageants and Christmas cards have turned it into. It is not as simple as the light of God bursting into human history through a child… it is also the story of shadows and hatred, of power, greed and evil. Ephiphany is about recognizing the light of the Divine in our midst… in the many ways that that happens. But the full story reminds us that there is also darkness within us, and outside of us, intent on shutting out, ignoring, covering up or extinguishing the light.

Yes, the light of God is always present with us, but so, too, is the darkness that would attempt to get rid of it for its own misguided benefit.

We recently enjoyed going to see the new Star Wars movie. Without giving anything away, let me just share a brief moment that stuck with me long after the movie was over. The two main characters are Ben Solo, who appears to have been turned to the dark side, and Rey, the young jedi woman who is helping lead the charge against the evil First Order. They have one brief exchange in which Ben says to Rey, “There is darkness in us.”

We know this is true, but still we're on the edge of our seats because we also know that there is light in them. We know that what matters is whether they will choose the path of darkness or the path of light.

Actions of light and darkness are fueled by different types of energy and feelings within us. The energy of light is expansive, positive, seeking goodness for all and is feuled by love, care, concern, understanding, compassion, hope and wisdom. when we allow ourselves to follow these guides, then the expansive energy of light manifests in helping others, in kindness, in generosity, in forgiveness, and all things that are life-affirming.

The energy of darkness, on the other hand, is contractive, limiting and negative. It is feuled by emotions such as anger, resentment, annoyance, fear, greed, pride, selfishness, woundedness and self-righteousness.When we allow these voices to rule the contractive energy of darkness manifests in hard words, violence, hatred, vengeance, grudges, bullying, judging, and lashing out against others.

Truth be told, there are times when I can let the contractive energy of darkness take hold in me. My ego can shout out from its place of pain and anger and call me to pull back and pull in, or worse to strike out and hurt because I've been hurt. When this happens I end up being disappointed in myself and feeling like I’m no good, I’m not worthy of love or friendship. And certainly not worthy to preach to anyone. Yes, there is darkness in me.

But it is a mistake to take a poor decision, or even multiple poor decisions, and let it color the entirety of our being because we also have light in us. This time of Epiphany reminds us to follow the light.

On Epiphany we are reminded that Light, Truth, and Love, is loose in the world. In fact it is everywhere! Especially within each of us. But we must choose to look for it. We must choose to listen to it. We must choose how we will respond and act. Everyone's light is important and valuable as we seek to spread the expansive energy of light in a broken world.

Author Megan McKenna tells a story that takes place in India...

In one very poor district, there are no lights in the streets and very few in the houses because of the expense of oil. But, as in all areas of India, there is a temple, frequented by the poor. The structure is primitive, with a huge brass chandelier that hangs from the roof and has spaces for one hundred small lamps. These spaces are empty until those who come to pray and worship arrive.

Each worshiper comes from home carrying a lamp through the darkened streets and then places the lamp in the chandelier. Slowly the darkened temple begins to glow with light that builds and grows stronger. The empty places are noted, and those who are missing are sought out after the service, questioned, given care or words of comfort, or challenged. Their light is necessary for all to worship.

The wholeness of the world is dependent upon each of us showing up with our lights, bringing our gifts and our compassion, and reaching out to those in need. Those of us who believe in the power of the light, our inner light, must bring our light through the darkened areas of our lives and our world and add it to the light of others, because when we bring our lights together something changes. It is like the feeling on Christmas Eve when we all light candles and sing Silent Night and we are borne up upon that crest of music and light that lifts us and swells deep within our hearts. It fills us again with hope for the world, with peace that comes from beyond us, and with a sense of oneness and harmony of how things could – or should – be.

As we enter this new year, may we be aware enough of both the light and darkness within us. May we be aware of the feelings that fuel them so that we may choose light, that expansive path that brings goodness and love to the world.

Love & Light!