CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©
One of the things I look forward to most in moving from Michigan’s UP [Upper Peninsula] to SoIn [Southern Indiana] is lightning bugs, fireflies. I have missed their cheerful presence in summer. I remember chasing them as a child, putting them into jars so I could take the light inside with me at night.
One of the reasons the Bible is so important is that it does not sugarcoat reality. The constant presence of evil is well-known in the stories and meditations of that book. One of the most important themes of the Bible is that even though, as poet William Stafford puts it, “The darkness around us is deep,” “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [John 1:5.] That is not pop-psych bumper-sticker “everything’s okay, god is good all the time, all the bad stuff happens for a reason” religion. The Bible acknowledges that the darkness is real. It also says that the light is real, and the light shines in the darkness.
There was a time when street lights were gas lamps. To light them, someone with a flame on the end of a long taper, the sort of thing that acolytes use to light candles in church, would reach up and set the wick of the street lamp to burning. I am too young to remember the lamplighters, but the song about “the old lamplighter” was popular when I was a kid. The refrain said, “He made the night a little brighter, wherever he would go, the old lamplighter of long, long ago.” 
That has always been a background theme song for me. I have always wanted to be the lamplighter, the one who, in the words of a child who saw the lamplighter for the first time, said, “That man is punching holes in the darkness.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever been tall enough in faith to be a lamplighter, but I think anyone can be a firefly, a lightning bug. Either way, that is what following Christ means, I think, to acknowledge the depth of the darkness, but to keep punching holes in it with the light.
John Robert McFarland
1] “The Old Lamplighter” lyrics were by Charles Tobias, music by Nat Simon, published in 1946.
I started this blog several years ago, when we followed the grandchildren to the “place of winter,” Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula [The UP]. I put that in the sub-title, Reflections on Faith from a Place of Winter for the Years of Winter, where life is defined by winter even in the summer! [This phrase is explained in the post for March 20, 2014.] The grandchildren, though, are grown up, so in May, 2015 we moved “home,” to Bloomington, IN, where we met and married. It’s not a “place of winter,” but we are still in winter years of the life cycle, so I am still trying to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ in winter…
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