Thanks to my high school classmate, Mark Felton, for recently sharing the following essay on Facebook. As we enter into that time of year when darkness comes ever earlier in the evening and lingers ever longer in the morning, I find the invitation contained in this essay, for all of us to use our lives to shine light into the dark places of our world, to be compelling. Bearing, as we do, the light of Christ, I believe we disciples of Jesus are always called and expected to share the light of God’s love, which we know as the “light of the world”, wherever we are and on everyone around us – no execptions.
Happy shining, my friends!
Robert Fulghum (author of the book “All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten) wrote this essay about the last session of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, led by Alexander Papaderos. a doctor of philosophy, a teacher and politician, and founder of an institute on the island of Crete devoted to healing the wounds of war.
Papaderos rose from his chair at the back of the room and walked to the front, where he stood in the bright Greek sunlight of an open window and looked out. He turned. And made the ritual gesture: “Are there any questions?”
“Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”
Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this:
“When I was a small child, during the war (World War II), we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.
I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.
I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light – truth, understanding, knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the black places in the hearts of men – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”
And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.
– Robert Fulguhm