Sunday, January 6, 2013

Reflecting Light

I am not the light or the source of light. But light -- truth, understanding, knowledge -- is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
Alexander Papaderos, Greek philosopher 

On this Epiphany, six churches gathered together to worship the Light. When the Reverend Andy paraphrased John 8:12 for the children saying, "Jesus said, 'I am the light and you are the light'", I was all ears because my somewhat eclectic credo includes the Roman philosophic principle that a spark of divinity exists in each of us and therefore we must respect one another if only for that spark buried deep within. Reverend Andy illustrated how all our lights can sometimes get tangled up like a string of Christmas tree lights; but with a little cooperation we can unsnarl ourselves and sort out our problems.

Then, the Reverend Jane's sermon, entitled "Reflecting Light into the Darkness" included this story told by Dr. Alexander Papaderos when he was asked, "What is the meaning of life?":

"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. [From his pocket, he pulled a small mirror, the size of a coin.] And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine -- in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light -- truth, understanding, knowledge -- is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world -- into the black places in the hearts of men -- and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."

And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.

Story told by Robert Fulghum in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (1989)


May we all shine light
into the dark places of the world.
Amen.


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