Candle in the night


We are at the end of the year, when it’s natural to reflect on accomplishments. For some, it is a time to evaluate what we want to change or sustain in the coming new year. For some, it means recognizing the light that we have been to others, helping them find their own way to achievement — metaphorically speaking, a candle in the night.

I spoke at the Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network’s (WCCWN) annual Christmas party. I reflected on the group’s accomplishments in 2019, making note of how much the group has evolved in just a few short years, from a candle sitting on a lampstand in a corner of a house to a city on a hill which refuses to be hidden. These are writers whose published words appear as a light that continues to shine.

When the WCCWN started five years ago, it had a simple premise: be a light not hidden under a basket. So, we lit a candle in the daylight and watched it blend with the brightness that surrounded it. Even as day turns to night, we see the light of our efforts stay true to course. What started as a complement now stands in contrast to everything around it.

Being a light doesn’t limit itself to those who write. Each of us has skills and talents that allow us to be seen or even be a guide for others. But, on any given day, there is a grayness that can overcome us, a time when we seem to lose our zeal or lack vision.

One of the most difficult times to see or be seen is when day fades to night. We know this time as twilight, a period or state of obscurity, ambiguity or gradual decline.

I said to my Sweet Al, “I remember the days when everything seemed to be gray, not too much light and not too much darkness.”

Those were days when I thought I knew what I wanted to do, or what I wanted to say, but couldn’t seem to navigate myself through my own season of twilight. I can only liken it to a time of spiritual unrest. Something kept me from sharing what I knew in my heart in order to be a light to those around me.

I am reminded of a classic film from the ‘90s by Robert Benton. It starred Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman and James Garner. The title of the film was “Twilight.” Although there are many meanings that could be drawn from the story, at its core was a man who couldn’t see the truth that was standing right in front of him.

Newman was in the twilight of his career, an aging detective investigating the murder of a woman. His friend, Garner, an ex-cop on the take, was helping him solve the murder case. Their efforts to find answers seemed to be nothing short of a black hole.

Newman could only see what he could hear. This was the voice of a friend that caused him to doubt his ability to find the right answers.

The mystery in the film was solved by the troubled and broken-down detective, when he finally realized the truth that surrounded him. I won’t be a spoiler, but this happened as Newman stood looking out the window of a penthouse overlooking the lights of the city. It was there that he suddenly saw a light, in the middle of his twilight.

As we embark on 2020, it’s important to see the things that have brought us to where we are today. Whether it is to celebrate a success or acknowledge how we have stopped in our own tracks, there are lights that we can leverage in order to reach new heights. For those of us who find ourselves in our own twilight, it may be time to move into the light we have been given.

Final brushstroke: In light, or as day fades to night, the glow of a candle remains the same. There are times when we need to follow it, times when we need to embrace it. One thing for sure: A light will know its greatest power when it is used.

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