Light and the Pandemic

I notice light so often now. 

Driving home today the clouds were a silver gray with beautiful rays shooting through the breaks then making their way to a tree line, creating a glow in an empty field to my left.  My photographer’s eye immediately framed a picture, placing someone there as if looking through my camera viewfinder. Seeing perfect light and how it can be used in a photograph always lifts my spirits. When I witness that glow the sun gifts us at dawn or dusk, I always want to capture it now with my camera.  Any photographer knows the crucial importance of light in a photograph. 

In the spring of 2020, when the world was shut down, I began looking forward to daily walks in the sun as the days became warmer throughout the quarantine. Our neighborhood seemed silent with only the passing of the Amazon vans going one direction and another. It felt almost sinister as they broke the silence and stillness.  I learned the medicinal value of, not only seeing the light, but feeling the light on my skin as it warmed the fresh air around me. Some days a friend would walk on her side of town as I walked on mine and we would chat on our phones about everything and nothing. It almost seemed like we were enjoying the warmth of the sun together. The sun as medicine was a new experience. By some estimates the sun has been around for 4.5 billion years but it took a global pandemic in 2020 for me to learn the power of sunlight. 

I learned the power of candlelight while teaching small groups made up of youth experiencing generational poverty. Fire, primitive and tiny, but yet a force for calming.  The teens come to our group from a reality of violence, drugs, gangs, and feeling of hopelessness. Some nights we cry together over a family member lost from violence. We light a candle. “You are the light of the world.” and “Jesus came to the world to be a light for us and His light shines through us.” We talk about these spiritual aspects of our faith each week while sharing what is on our mind, heart and plate just then. The light from the candle seems to soothe us, unite us and make our space safe for sharing. When we leave, we always blow the candle out with intentionality and speak of going out into the world and being a light for those who need it. 

Fire, primitive and tiny, but yet a force for calming. (photo credit: dlm photos)

We are all drawn to light whether it is external light or the light someone brings to the world from within them. 

These pandemic days, I feel my inner light diminishing like someone is using a dimmer switch in slow motion, just a miniscule amount over what seems an extended period of time.  I have always felt my inner light burn brightly. Normally active, energetic, a lover of God, of people – especially children and having “FOMO” (fear of missing out) to the max leads me to be involved in all kinds of activities. I love to learn new things. I am grateful for everything you could ever put a name to. All of these things that are a part of me, that are me, are akin to a generator working to keep my inner light burning its brightest. 

I have now gained weight; my hair is a mess and I need a cut and color. I am spending too much time in my own head and too much time alone. I miss my community; my volunteer work and I miss hugs. When our school was passing out food boxes for the hungry and needed help, I did not go as I would be too close in proximity to others and I was fearful. Racial and political divides, which seemed heightened during this global health crisis, have weighed on me as well. 

A truth for me and perhaps all of us is that my inner light seems to shine brightest or even at all when it is reflected off others. 

This is true of all light according to science:

“Reflection is the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated.” 

When I can see smiles on the faces of those I care about, have conversations over coffee with a friend, work to feel I have made a difference in the life of anyone other than myself, or when I can be in the middle of what we call a “beautiful mess” at our house doing art projects with my grandchildren…. When I can cook dinner for a group of people we care about and sit together around the table afterwards catching up… These are all ways I see my light reflected in others and how their light in turn keeps mine burning bright. There can be no light without  possibility of reflection.

As a COVID-laden winter approaches, I find once again I am drawn to the light as we  enjoy stringing the lights on our house and Christmas tree. I notice the other decorated houses more in 2020 as well. 

“To shine your brightest light is to be who you truly are.” ― Roy T. Bennett

In the midst of this pandemic, we can keep looking to the light around us until this pandemic is behind us and we can be who we truly are again. 

Keep the Faith- #ktf