A Shaft of Light

“‘The word of the Lord’ has come these mornings with the stealing, day by day, of a tiny circle of light across the wall as soon as the sun is up.  It comes through a wee chink in the weatherworn shutter – just one shaft – but it is the image of the Sun Himself, full-orbed.  And it has come with a flood of joy that no matter if we are only crooked little chinks, the heavenly Sun can send through us not only light, but the revelation of His Image:  ‘the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus.'”                                                                               Diary 4 June 1906

While the primitive domicile depicted above predates the diary entry by six years, it vividly illustrates the parable of light that came to Lilias while convalescing in El Biar, in the northern suburb of Algiers.  She records her recuperation over a period of two weeks “in a long, lovely room with black beamed ceiling & white washed wall & “Liberty” cretonnes (heavy unglazed draperies) of green & gold – so restful.   The roses outside have crumbled up with the sudden heat, & a burst of pomegranate blossoms & oleander, white & rose, shew that summer is here.” 

Listless and bed-ridden, Lilias awakened each morning to a natural occurrence through which “the word of the Lord” came to her with a flood of joy.  A shaft of light penetrated a “wee chink” in the shutter tracing, with the sun, a tiny circle of light across the wall.  It spoke to her of a parallel in the world of the spirit:  Just as a “wee chink” became the means through which a ray of light could shine we, too, can be “crooked little chinks” through which God’s light can shine.

I might rightly ask, “What good is my little light?”  It seems presumptuous to think for a moment that my flickering light will make even the slightest difference in this darkened world.  My light isn’t much.  But His Light is – and it is His light that potentially shines through me; it is His Light that potentially reflects, through me, the revelation of His Image.  That is His Plan:  “… now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”

What might that “shaft of light” look like for me?  Today.  A word of appreciation or encouragement. . .  light.  Gentle response to a harsh comment. . .  light.  Simple acts of kindness – an hour of child-care for a stressed young mom; giving a ride to the doctor’s office; raking leaves from a neighbor’s driveway. . .   light, light, light.  Sending a card or email to a friend or acquaintance. . .   light.  Going about my daily tasks with a song not a sigh. . .  light.  Opening my heart when I open my door, offering a cup of coffee or cold water. . .  light.  Providing a meal for a family in need. . .  light.  Lending a listening ear. . .  light.

The light might be dim – and the chink through which it shines, small and crooked, at that  – but if the room is dark, it shines even brighter.  The summer of 2004, three major hurricanes roared through Central Florida leaving us without electricity for weeks at a time.  When the sun had set and the canopy of trees surrounding our house blocked from us moon light and star shine, we lit first the candle in the living room.  A circle of light radiated throughout the darkness, illuminating the way, sequentially, to light other candles.  The light was dim compared to the incandescent bulbs to which we had become accustomed.  But the soft glow of candlelight was sufficient for basic functions.  And fellowship was never sweeter than in the circumference of its radiance.

George Herbert, in his collection of poetry, used the imagery of The Temple to frame his expression of God’s love for man. His poem, “The Window,” scripted in what now would be considered “quaint old English,” resonates with Lilias’s “crooked little chinks” in “weather-worn shutters.”

He is a brittle crazie glasse:

Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford

This glorious and transcendent place,

To be a window, through thy grace.

It is important that I be intentional in seeking to be a “crazie glasse,” a crooked chink through which Christ’s light can shine. That is my part.  But God may lead me to something quite different that I planned.  I must be open to His Guidance.  Futhermore, I might not know – now or ever – if and when and how that Light was used to brighten another’s life.   The challenge is to keep that “wee chink” clear and open, that His Light might shine through me – to others.  May I with child-like faith, join voices – young and old – in this familiar refrain:

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Let it shine till Jesus comes, I’m going to let it shine,

Let it shine till Jesus comes, I’m going to let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

  Top Painting:  Travel Journal, Tolga, 1900;

Bottom Painting:  Travel Journal, 1898   

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4 Responses to A Shaft of Light

  1. Ellen Harmeling says:

    What a beautiful reminder at the start of the day that we are light, even a wee light. God bless you.

  2. Bobb Biehl says:

    Interesting how different the song would have been if it had been written:

    This little light of mine, I’m gonna MAKE it shine,

    A world of difference between two simple words … make and let!

    Bobb

  3. Marcia Grace says:

    Glory, honor, wonder and praise to Jesus our Light! His Light is radiant and clear, and because of Who He is, we are light for His Name sake. Thankyou for sharing this beautiful, peaceful yet powerful concept of our Lord Jesus in a tiny shaft of light. Joy flowed throughout as the many ways to be light made a gentle, sweet bouquet to share with others. Many blessings.

  4. Jayne LintonP says:

    As you know, I am led by the Light not only in my art, but also in my search for the Lord. This reading was SO meaningful to me. Thanks, Jayne

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