Light. Every day now, if we pay attention, we will notice that God adds a couple of minutes of light to our day.  My hope for all of us here at Bear Creek UMC is that we will also open our eyes to the light that God is pouring into our lives and into the lives of people all over the world.

This month I will be preaching a sermon series on light called, “Shine: learning to see and share God’s light!”  One of the books I’ve been reading for this series is admittedly light reading, but I’m enjoying it.  It’s called “Catching Fireflies: Teaching your Heart to See God’s Light Everywhere.”   I think I picked up this book because of the cool picture on the front of the book cover.   It’s a picture of a jar of fireflies lighting up the world.  

Do you remember catching fireflies?   In the Dakotas, where I grew up, they were always out around the fourth of July.  We’d be out camping, or at grandma’s house eating watermelon and watching the fireworks from a distance, when all the sudden we began to notice that God was putting on a fireworks display of God’s own!  Out we’d run, barefoot for sure, with a jar in our hand, ready to catch these magical bugs.  My grandma always told me that these little bugs had angel’s dust on their wings and that’s why they lit up.

Later, I’d tuck myself into bed and place “natures little lantern” (aka a jar of ladybugs) next to me and watch in wonder as they lit up my room with the magic of light.   The next morning I’d wake up and notice that the jar was empty.  Grandma had let them go.  “Angels need to be free!” She pronounced.

There is truly something magical about light!  It has a way of bringing hope and healing wherever it shines.  One of the things I’ve noticed about living in the Pacific Northwest is just how dark it gets here in the winter. In the Dakotas we get more sunshine in the winter.  Oh, certainly it snows, but after a snow the sun pours in and reflects off the snow.  There are moments in the Dakotas where you are literally blinded by that light reflecting off the snow.   That’s not an experience I’ve encountered in the PNW.  Here winters seem to stay gloomy all winter long. 

One of the things that brings on for many of us, is what we call seasonal depression.  Winter’s are indeed a dangerous time for many of us.   An author I’ve always respected around the issue of depression is Terrance Real.   In one of his books, written about 20 years ago, he tries to lift the shame and silence around the issue of depression in men. He opens his book, “I Don’t Want to Talk About It,” with this paragraph:

“When I stand beside troubled fathers and sons I’m often flooded with a sense of recognition.  All men are sons and, whether they know it or not, most sons are loyal. To me, my father presented a confusing jumble of brutality and pathos.  As a boy, I drank into my character a dark, jagged emptiness that haunted me for close to thirty years.  As other fathers have done to their sons, my father—through the look in his eyes, the tone of his voice, the quality of his touch—passed the depression he did not know he had on to me just as surely as his father had passed it on to him—a chain of pain, linking parent to child across generations, a toxic legacy.”

Sometimes, finding the light means first admitting and then naming the darkness.  This year as we embrace the light of Christ more fully, may we be brave enough to admit and expose those hidden and often shameful shadows in our lives so that God can fill them with love and light.  Men or women, if you ever want to talk about “it” … I’m here!

Your pastor and friend, slowly learning to let God into my darkness, Brook

Tim Schaaf