Padre’s Corner: A Light in the Darkness

St. Brendan’s Chapel at Stadacona.
Photo: CFB Halifax

Padre’s Corner: A Light in the Darkness

By Padre Lt(N) Stephen Cogswell,
Chaplain,12 Wing Shearwater

 We’re deep into the winter months in Nova Scotia which means messy & windy storms. With those storms also comes a good chance of power outages. During once such “Nor’easter,” our neighbourhood was not spared the hardship of our power being knocked out. My teenage son, who is firmly in the rhythm of multiple-showers-per-day, was undeterred by our vanishing voltage. So he asks me, “Dad, can I still take a shower?”

 “Sure,” I say, as there would be plenty of hot water in the tank. I continued, “but the only thing is, you’ll have absolutely no light in the bathroom.”

 This particular bathroom is positioned precisely in the center of the house. It is surrounded by two bedrooms and a hallway. It has no windows and therefore no ambient light of any kind without the lights turned on. To say it another way; without any electricity, it’s pitch-black in there.

 But in a brief moment, teenage ingenuity seemed to triumph over the obstacle at hand. “Can I just light a candle while I shower?” my son inquired.

 “Sure,” I responded, “but I’m not sure how well you’ll be able to see.” 

 About ten minutes minutes later, he emerged from the dark & steam-filled bathroom, squeaky-clean and grateful for whatever amount of water had been previously heated in our tank. He also was more than a bit surprised at how well the room was illuminated by a single jar candle. “Dad, it was pretty bright in there after all. I could actually see really well,” he reported back to me. 

 I suppose in all of this there’s a principle at play; the light shines brightest when it’s really dark.

 In fact, scientific experiments tell us that a single candle can be seen by the naked eye from more than a couple of kilometres away. We usually don’t think of a single light as being a particularly powerful force, but when it’s especially dark, the effect of the light is unmistakable.

 Light was meant to shine. There’s a memorable verse from the Bible that speaks of this very phenomenon and it reads this way:

 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house (Matthew chapter five, verse fifteen).

 The metaphor is probably obvious, but in case it isn’t, our lives are like the light. The things we say, the things we do, the way in which we do them, can all be like a light.  

 The light shines brightest when it’s really dark and if there’s ever a time when we could all use a little light, it’s now. So, don’t cover it up or place it under a basket. Don’t let your light be overwhelmed by darkness. Instead, cut through that darkness with your light. However bright your light, let it shine.