The Lights

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I drove downtown the other night, not looking for any particular inspiration. I was on my way to volunteer, and as I drove I thought about how familiar I have started to become with this other part of town. This part where the railroad tracks rumble and the bridges make the dark shadows even darker. I thought about how I was nervous the first time I criss-crossed those streets in the evening, after the time changed and I became aware of how unlit some places are.

I thought about darkness, and becoming familiar with it.

Then, I saw them. Lights. Christmas lights. Green and white bulbs sparkled on a single bush outside one door. The door was on the end of a row of government housing. I wish I'd taken a picture of those lights, but it seemed too intrusive, too gawky, to stop my car, stick my expensive phone out the window and click.

So, I kept driving. But I noted those lights, and I marveled at their glow; how they stood out as a sign of a joyful season in an area where there aren't many beacons of joy. The rest of the doorways were dark. No wreaths, no lights, no candles in the windows. Just some men standing on the corner, and that one illuminated bush.

I wondered if it was a mom like me, who took the time to string those lights. I felt a sudden kinship with this imaginary woman, as I envisioned her indulging her children and being brave - the only one with lights outside her door. The only one proclaiming the season so boldly. I admired her.

What faith, what hope. What a lesson on a dark street.

It made me think of the lyrics from O Little Town of Bethlehem,

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

As I continue to think about those lights and His Light, I wonder, does she have any idea about the testimony she is spreading when she illuminates her corner each evening? Does she know that she made me think about Jesus? Jesus, who wants to be with us in our darkest hours? Jesus, who came into this world in the dark, and who always, always associated first with the least of these? Jesus, a clear and steady light, always on, even when the rest of the street is dark . . .

I drive past Christmas lights every night. Big, beautiful displays, which are heartwarming and lovely. But that one little bush was the best. It made me think, and filled me with thoughts of the season. I am so grateful that whoever lives there took the time to string those lights, and I pray that their Christmas is holy and lovely.

Are you finding inspiration in unexpected places this season? Are you ever amazed at how God can work on our hearts with simple things like lights?

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16 Responses to “The Lights”

  1. This is such a beautiful post. Just perfect. I'm crying in my coffee.

  2. Thanks, Leslie. That means a lot to me coming from you - I respect your writing so much. Merry Christmas :)

  3. Thanks to Leslie W, I found this post.  Beautiful.  I've been searching each week for the right connection to the season, trying not to be the lady in the Target commercial.  This was exactly what I needed today.  Merry Christmas to you and yours and may your Christmas be Holy and Bright.  

  4. Thanks, Rebecca. So glad Leslie sent you over. I have a love/hate relationship with that Target lady. Kind of ready for her to go off the air now . . . hopping over to visit you. Merry Christmas!

  5. We're each called to illuminate our little corners. I'm glad you pulled the spiritual lesson out of the Christmas lights you saw. Beautiful, Cortney!

  6. What a beautiful illustration of hope in the darkness!

    Merry Christmas!!

  7. Oh, I love this:  What a lesson on a dark street.
    Where are the dark streets where I can shine, not ostentatiously, but simply reflecting His glory?

  8. Lisa, you are so right: We are each called to illuminate our little corners - that is something I need to remember year-round. Thank you for that, and Merry Christmas!

  9. Jen, I think you do that just naturally - you reflect your love for God and as much as it comes through this screen, it must be evident to everyone around you. Perhaps dark streets are sometimes dark computer screens, reaching out with hope and friendship to more than you could ever reach by standing on one particular corner? Thanks for your lessons and encouragement this year - Merry Christmas, Courtney

  10. Yes, always hope! Merry Christmas to you, too!

  11. A beautiful heart lesson. How wonderful to see lights in the dark. I am finding inspiration in unexpected places and through so many unexpected people. It's completely refreshing and has me reflecting.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  12. nice...i love the lights at christmas...we have a family here locally taht spent the last 6 months building their display...even got their own radio station...filled with great music and the message of christmas....very cool heart lesson in your words today...i hope you have a very merry christmas!

  13. Tara_pohlkottepressDecember 22, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    in its simplicity, beauty shown even brighter. yes. lets see this truth.  Merry Christmas!

  14. Lights do amazing things. You should see our neighborhood. Apparently the Christmas spirit is catching.

  15. another woman, just like us... we're all united this time of year, through thought and deed and wondering... bless you dear courtney. you are a light in a dark world.

  16. Beautiful! Mary so inspires me. I  think as women we wonder so much about what it must have been like to carry the Christ child. Her light, His light and now they inspire us to share our light! Merry Christmas - I'll be out looking for lights!