Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lesson 40 XL: This Little Light of Mine

Today is my birthday.  My XL birthday.  Not as in extra large, as in Roman Numerals.  Now some of you weren't paying attention in third grade, so I will explain.  X is ten and L is 50.  NOW PAY ATTENTION!  When the little letter comes in front of the big letter, that means SUBTRACT, not add--that's too many years for Eloise.  So Karen, get your bedazzled calculator with the faux-gemstone keys.  Press 50 - 10 =.  The number that shows in the rectangular window is my age.  Eloise was born on the third day of the third month in the year 1971. 

My real name, not my pen name, means "shining light."  I've known this since third grade when I needed to learn it for a school assignment.  See, I was paying attention when I was eight.  I've never forgotten it and always liked it.  But now more than ever before does the meaning of my birth name seem all the more fitting as I am keeper of The Lamp Post Dharma Station and write the blog Lessons From the Lamp Post.  For this reason I will dedicate this blog to the light and all that it means.  How perfect is it that I can make such a connection on the day of my birth, 40 years ago today?

In the beginning, way back to the birth of all things, the world as we know it was this big, empty, formless blob.  Then all of a sudden God said, "Let there be light!" and there was light.  Kind-of-sort-of like my birth.  When we leave the womb and enter the light, we are born our physical birth.  Your lamp is lit however,when you are spiritually born, which is something really worth celebrating.  It marks when you make a choice to step into the light.

If you really go deep here, which Eloise likes to challenge you to do,  ponder this:  light itself is invisible, yet everything is invisible until light strikes it.  That reminds me an awful lot of God, how about you?  God is invisible, but when we stand in His light, we can see.  Our eyes are opened and we see things in our world from a whole new perspective, a whole new light. 

I had a guest speaker at my church a few summers ago and I can't remember the gentleman's name.  I know that he wore a blue sport jacket and had a soft, soothing voice.  I am not good with names.  My brain is so full of friends and family and students and parents and sports stars and musicians and heroes that some days it seems like I can't put one more name in my brain without another one spilling out.  My sister Krissy, I mean Karen (see, there I go......) has a mind like a steel trap and can recall names and faces from high school with complete ease.  My mom knows every person's birthday in the whole wide world, and good old dad is great with dates.  But me, what am I good at?  Making connections I guess, and remembering the "big stuff" more than the details.  It wasn't this man's name that stayed with me, it was what he said.

I remember this kindly gentleman speaking about his missionary work in the darkest corners of the world.  He went to places of extreme poverty and hopelessness and spoke to the people about the Lord.  He brought slides with him of the places he'd been and projected them onto the wall of our church.  I am always amazed and taken aback by how some people live in our world today.  Those images of the people in the faraway places are burned in my brain.  I prayed for them that day, and continue to pray for all people in extreme need every day.  The man admitted that he sometimes would get discouraged and felt like giving up because the need was so overwhelming and the situations so desperate. When this would happen to him, he would pull out his wallet and dig for something he had tucked away deep in the well-worn and folded leather--a tiny piece of a mirror. 

He told us the mirror was to remind him that he was not the light, but a reflection of the light.  It was his job, his purpose,  to reflect the light into the darkest corners of the earth.  He could physically illustrate that with the tiny piece of mirror and did so for our congregation.  He pointed to the shining light from above on the church ceiling, tilted the mirror in such a way that it reflected the light onto the dark corner of the church where the wall met the carpet.  He kept repeating, "I am not the light, but a reflection of the light", pushing his point home into our hearts.

As the Lamp Post keeper, I must remind you all of this:  I shine the light from my Dharma Station, but I am not the source of the light.  So when you praise me for my writing ability, and send me messages about how I touched your heart, made you laugh, or inspired you, I must humbly pass that glory on to God, because I am not the light, but a mere reflection of it.  We are all reflections of the light and it is our job to reach those dark corners of the world.  We don't have to travel to a country we can't pronounce to do it.  We can do it from wherever you are at the moment, because we are surrounded by plenty of darkness.  I can do this through my everyday actions and also through writing posts like these on this blog.  As a birthday gift to me, do this:  allow your lamp to be lit, and let your light reflect onto others.

This reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses found in Matthew, chapter 5, verses 14-16.  Jesus told us this:  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  When your light is lit, you won't be able to hide it.  Others will see it when they look into your eyes and see the sparkle.  When you reach out your hand to grasp theirs they will feel the warmth you radiate.  They will see your glow when they are in your presence.  You are not the light, but will be a reflection of His light.  How wonderful.

Therefore on my birthday I give thanks to God for my 40 years here on earth.  I also thank my parents for giving me life, security, and love.  But most of all,  I am thankful to them for choosing my name which means "shining light." I've heard the stories and know they always liked my real birth name, but I believe God must have whispered it in their ears because he had a plan for me 40 years later.  He knows how I find great satisfaction in fitting things together, so He knew my birth name would be a perfect choice--"shining light" for the Keeper of the Lamp Post. 

Slovenians, you are curious aren't you?  You really want to know what my real first name is.  Don't ask me right now because even I have forgotten it a couple of times lately.  I have been so taken up with this blog writing that recently I signed Eloise Hawking instead of my birth name on things.  The guy at Film Fest Video in North East didn't catch it when I signed for my videos.  The crew at Milestones Early Learning Center may have caught the wrong signature on their check for Sam's tuition though.  They probably would have figured that Sam finally pushed me over the edge and I had gone insane, so I ripped up that check and wrote a new one. 

Slovenians, you are reading this blog, so obviously you have access to the internet.  Check out my good friend, Mr. Google, and with a few words in that rectangular box, you should be able to narrow my name down to about 5 possibilities.  They are all forms of the same name and all pretty if you ask me. 

For the rest of you, your assignment from this teacher is to find your sije svetloba.  And in case you aren't good at piecing together context clues, the above italicized words are "shining light"--in Slovenian.  Find some way to light your lamp and put it high on a hill for all to see. 

Enjoy the song This Little Light of Mine by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  It is one of my favorites.  This version with the full gospel choir in the background puts it over the top for me.  Don't be afraid to stand up, clap, and sing along with it at the top of your lungs.  I hope it becomes not just a catchy tune that you find yourself humming today, but a song you put in your heart.  I hope you remember the message from this blog for many years to come, just as I remembered the man who came to my church, even if you forget the name Eloise.

Have an XL sunny day, everyone!


Barbara said...

Happy Bday to you, dear!!

Cousin Jan said...

We are touched by your words our dear "shining light" . Not only is your name a variant of the name Helen but your strength and humor is too. Keep sharing the words given to you!