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In this morning’s pre-dawn darkness, I noticed that two of our solar-powered landscape lights were no longer shining. They are inexpensive little gadgets that get powered up during the day, then shine beautifully after the arrival of darkness. At midnight they all look the same. But I have noticed this often in my early mornings on the patio: some of them get full charges and can shine throughout the night; others, for whatever reason, shine brilliantly for a while, but run out of power before dawn arrives.

Acknowledging that this is an embarrassingly simplistic metaphor, it nevertheless reflects an existential truth with which we all live: if we don’t find ways of getting recharged and renewed, we will inevitably find times when we lack the power to love and care and serve, especially during dark times. Our light will go out, our presence in the world will be diminished, our witness will be muted. Frankly, no matter how much we tend to our spiritual lives, it happens to all of us at one time or another. Spiritual energy, which is the most important kind of energy, is dependent on many factors that are not in our control. Having said that, taking time to recharge is in our control, and we are remiss if we do not make time and space for opportunities to do so.

We recently celebrated the life of a long-time church member whose faithfulness was well-known. One of the hymns we sang at the memorial service was This Little Light of Mine. Written originally as a children’s song, it also became a staple of the civil rights movement, and its simple-but-powerful message evokes both compelling memories and admirable aspirations: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna’ let it shine…everywhere I go, I’m gonna’ let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…” 

Keeping that little light charged up isn’t always easy, but the brightest lights I know have discovered how to remain in communion with the One who is the light of the world. On a weekly basis they sing hymns, offer prayers, and listen to (sometimes awkwardly presented) sermons. Daily, they spend a little silent time with God. They’ve simply figured out what appears to be an elusive truth for so many people: spiritual energy doesn’t arrive on its own. It comes to those who practice the discipline of staying connected to God. 

Rev. Don Underwood