by Ken Rolheiser
The candle or the mirror

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

Brene Brown in Braving the Wilderness describes attending Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with her daughters. In a scene where Dumbledore is dying Harry Potter has his hand on Dumbledore’s chest and weeps. In the dark sky above the one responsible for his death, Voldemort, appears.

Professor McGonagall points his wand into the sky. A beam of light appears. Each of the students gathered there point their wands into the sky. The constellation of lights disperses the dark cloud.

As Brown sees her two daughters with their fingers in the air, and she, herself, weeping with her finger in the air, she sees the other 200 theater goers with their fingers in the air.

I can recall a real experience of candle as light at an Easter Vigil service my family attended when our four were children. In the darkened church everyone had a lighted candle. When the priest asked us all to raise our light, a collective gasp was heard as the candle beams illuminated the church.

Though Harry Potter is fiction, “What is very real is that we have this innate desire to overcome darkness. We want to be part of some collective that can overpower the darkness in our lives,” says Father Brendan McGuire in “I want to be light”.

We can be the light in darkness others experience in this world. A smile or a greeting can lift someone’s spirit. I recall in junior high school when I was the victim of a bully and it seemed the whole world was against me, my cousin put an affirming hand on my shoulder and everything changed.

We can all do our small part as illustrated in the story of a man traveling on his donkey who came upon a small fuzzy object in the road. He dismounted and found a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust upward.

The man asked the sparrow if he was all right. The sparrow replied, "Yes." The man asked, "What are you doing lying on your back with your legs pointed towards the sky?"
The sparrow responded that he had heard a rumor that the sky was falling, and so he was holding his legs up to catch it. The man retorted, "You surely don't think that you're going to hold it up with those two scrawny legs, do you?" The sparrow, with a very solemn look, replied, "One does the best he can."

And always there is an upside to our darkest moments. Fred Rogers from Mr Rogers Neighborhood said, “When I was a boy my dad would see scary things on the news. My Mother would say, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

When I was a child living ten miles from the hamlet of Cactus Lake I sometimes found everyday life boring. When a coyote came along, it was an event. So whenever company arrived, there was always joy.

You and I are “company is coming” to the world. Others find joy in our presence and are happy when we drop around for a visit.

We are the light to the world. “Let your light shine before others in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

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