Tag Archive: light


There are some children’s hymns and songs which seem rather twee and the one I am sharing with you could easily fit into that category. However, the other day, as the grey clouds lowered and it grew gloomier, I found myself whistling the tune and repeating “You in your small corner, and I in mine”. It is not a complete theology by a long stretch but it is cheerful enough if you know the tune. The general point is that Jesus, the light of the world, is with us during our daily tasks, no matter how dark and dull it is outside.

1. Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

2. Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him;
Well He sees and knows it if our light is dim;
He looks down from heaven, sees us shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

3. Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around,
Many kinds of darkness in this world abound:
Sin, and want, and sorrow—we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

Susan Warner, 1868

A haiku for National Poetry day: Light

Illumination
ease the burden of darkness
beaming light relief

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Plato

If you are somewhere safe and secure, a dark, clear, night brings the opportunity to gaze upon the stars, to wonder at their beauty and marvel at the complexity of the universe. We are so tiny compared to the cosmos and a few moments’ thought may strike us with awe or a sense of humility.
Darkness, though, may mean something quite the opposite to us. An ill-lit path of an evening may make us feel nervous. For some people, darkness may help cover up illegal or anti-social behaviour. Indeed, we describe some terrible things that people may do as “deeds of darkness”. Then again, for some of us, there may be a sense of darkness within ourselves: perhaps of loneliness or guilt or despair.

To all our darknesses came Jesus the Light of the world; like the dawning of the sun outshining all the stars of the night, the power of God’s love and life shines through Jesus into the world.
Light, which defeats darkness, is one way to understand the Christmas message. It is a message of hope for the world, which we celebrate at Jesus’ birthday in Bethlehem. It is also a message of joy for Christians who pray, as it says in the carol, “be born in us today”.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell:
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.

Phillips Brooks (1835-93)

May the light of Christ shine for you this season. Amen.

Seeing light

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12)

When we did science at junior school, one of my favourite topics was ‘Light’. As a teacher, one of the first things I wanted to find out was what pupils already knew, and also to introduce some vocabulary for them to learn. So between us we thought of all sorts of words associated with light: colour, light, dark, shine, sparkle, torch, lamp, see, street light, traffic lights, etc, etc. You could probably come up with more examples.

Of course, what light means to us does not stop at lessons in school. For instance, there is spectroscopy which uses the different wavelengths of light (i.e. colours) to show what something is made from. Then there are lasers which can burn, heal and also make incredibly accurate measurements. You can find lasers in hospitals, in home computers and DVD players. They are also used by astronomers to measure accurately how far away the moon is. Light is also the fastest thing in the universe that we know of.

Then again, we use the word metaphorically when we say that someone has “seen the light” – they have a sudden realisation of an important truth. (Think of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus.) Or we might say that someone is enlightened, meaning that they understand how the world works and are not prone to superstition.

Light in one way or another is essential to our lives.

Among other things, during this liturgical season of Epiphany, we think of Jesus as “the light of the world” (John chapter 8 verse 12) and as “a light to the Gentiles (foreigners)” (Luke chapter 2 verse 32). Thinking about it, to say that Jesus is “the Light” is actually quite a big claim – when you start to think about what light can do and what light represents:

Jesus helps us in our darkness

Jesus helps us to see and to understand how things really are.

Jesus leads us away from superstition and towards truth.

Jesus is for everybody we know and for everybody we do not know.

Jesus is not just for those who call themselves Christians but is for the whole world.

May we all know the light of Christ in our lives.

Yes, I do mean cow dung and no, I haven’t told the rest of the family yet. You see, it was one of my Christmas presents. Well, part of a Christmas present, and it is possible that I am mistaken.

I was given a mushroom growing kit but did not get round to setting it up until some time in mid-January. The instructions seemed straight-forward at first glance until I read the details. I had imagined you simply put soil and mushroom seed/spores/powder into a box, put the lid on and forgot about it until the mushrooms were ready to pick. It turns out not to be so simple.

There were two sorts of soil/mud: one with the mushroom stuff in and then “casing” which went on top several days later. It was only after I had squidged and squashed the brown stuff into the bottom of the mushroom box that it occurred to me that it looked remarkable like cow dung. Unfortunately, we had already decided that the best spot to grow the mushrooms (away from food and also the right general temperature) was a corner in the living room. Well, I made the best of it and, until now, I have kept my suspicions to myself. In the meantime the mixture has to be kept moist (not overly wet nor allowed to dry out) and we have had a small plague of fruit fly (another clue to what the brown stuff might be).

I was right about the mushrooms needing to be kept in the dark – the lid of the box has taken care of that. As for myself, I prefer the light (unless I’m trying to sleep).

I have really enjoyed having bright sunny mornings this week here – it really lifts my spirits. Light makes things seem so much more cheerful – so it may seem strange that I would like the idea of turning off the lights this evening. Thanks to an advert in the Radio Times and a C of E news headline, we have had Earth Hour brought to our attention. There’s more on the WWF website and it is not just about light pollution and the convenience of astronomers (much as I may be sympathetic to them). There are the effects on wildlife whose natural daily and nightly rhythms are affected. Plus there is the issue of so much wasted energy. I understand why people want to light up their garden for a greater sense of security but I don’t need my garden illuminated by the lights of a business which is a mile away. There has got to be a more energy-efficient way of doing things.

We are not mushrooms but we do need the right balance of light and darkness in our lives. I’ve already mentioned Earth Hour (starting 8.30 a.m. GMT) to the rest of the family. I may leave the cow pat question till after we’ve harvested a few more mushrooms.

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