It’s been fascinating, now that I live in a neighborhood instead of out in the country, to see the Christmas lights go up this time of year. And by go up, I don’t mean I actually see the placement of the strings of lights as it’s happening. I don’t think I’ve seen that once thus far. Instead, I see the results gradually take over the streets.
I’m usually driving home at night. My church is at night, my writers group is at night, I go out with friends at night. The delightful thing about this is that I get to see the various homes in all their holiday glory. But the lights didn’t all go up overnight. It’s not like one evening the street was dark and the next it was a blaze of tiny white and colored lightbulbs. People aren’t quite that coordinated.
But I find the actual effect a lot cooler.
I’ll drive to my writers group on Wednesday, and two houses will be lit. Two lovely houses, looking like gingerbread dwellings. Then I’ll go out with friends on Friday and when I drive back home there are five decorated houses. On Sunday I come back from church to see ten of them. It seems that every night there are a few more, each family’s efforts gradually illuminating the silent streets.
The other part of this that I find so fascinating is that when I go out in the daytime, to get groceries, run to the library, or pick up my cousins from school, all looks exactly as it always has. No lights. No holiday cheer. No winter wonderland.
It’s in the darkness that the lights transform the simple residences into beautiful Christmas magic.
How very like our lives. In the daytime, when things are bright and clear, we may all look the same, nothing special. But the darkness shows us for what we really are. The pain, the heartache, the weariness, the confusion, the struggle–they either show the light of God within us, or reveal the lack of peace, hope, and joy, leaving us to fade into the background in an often dark world. It’s easy to fake light when there’s light all around you. It’s easy then to appear bright and blessed. But when night comes, which will we be? The buildings lost into the blackness, or those that give light and beauty to others all around us?
I hope that in this often painful time of year, my Christmas lights are shining bright and true.