We’ve seen it coming – darkness ushered in by a global pandemic, social injustices and partisan politics.

As storm clouds grow in the gulf, COVID-19 still wreaks havoc and police gun down another Black citizen, more and more people are feeling overwhelmed by the cruel burdens of sickness, death, injustices, economic collapse and a lack of decency within our world.

While I no longer serve in a local parish ministry, I have the privilege of visiting with clergy and people of faith quite frequently.

They wear it on their faces, and I can hear it in their voices. The dog days of summer in 2020 are pressing down very hard.

While the cases of COVID-19 are decreasing, hot spots remain across the country as school resumes this fall.

More police shootings spark responses, as a large part of the country refuses to come to grips with our deep-seated racism.

We teeter on economic collapse, as the rich gain more wealth and the rest of us have mounting debt and unpaid bills.

Finally, we find ourselves amid a presidential election, sending the country into a deeper divide. The country forgets to practice common decency, instead, choosing party loyalty over family and friends.

All of this, and more, becomes extremely overwhelming for many.

We medicate ourselves with both prescription and nonprescription options just to make it through the week. Life, right now, feels as though there is no hope to which we can look forward. Thus, we struggle in our realities as we watch the skies grow darker.

So, what are people of good faith to do?

For starters, we should not give in to the darkness, but we should combat darkness with light.

We need to respond with love when hate raises its ugly head. We must cling to the eternal light of hope and justice that cannot be extinguished by either circumstances or individuals advocating for darkness.

Long ago, my wife offered something that has become a family mantra. She said, “People always need ‘something’ to look forward to in life that generates hope and excitement.” She is absolutely right.

Scripture uses light and darkness as a background to inspire hope over fear and evil.

Jesus put it this way, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Being even more specific, Jesus continued his light metaphor, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

We are people of the light because the light of the universe burns inside us.

Jesus even said so, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

So, what brings light to your life? What shines daily that can provide you warmth, peace and hope?

Is there a light in the future where you can cast your gaze, guiding you through the darkness and unknown to a destination where hope and joy reside? Where is the light Jesus placed in your world that you’re missing?

For me, I found the light in my backyard.

Like so many others, the pandemic has confined us to our home. We venture out for groceries and such from time to time, but a vast majority of our existence is spent at home.

At first, it was a novel venture, but as the days grew into weeks and the weeks into months, we grew more and more depressed about the situation. We needed light.

We have always enjoyed our backyard, seeing it as an extension of our living space.

Years back, when my sons were younger, we made what we laughingly call the best-and-worst financial decision of our lives. We invested in a swimming pool.

For years, we loved the summers as the boys and their friends filled the pool with laughter and joy.

We loved having friends over, sitting out by the pool enjoying a nice dinner and conversation. It was our little piece of an oasis away from ministry.

As the pandemic broke, we found ourselves in the backyard more, sitting and watching the days go by. On one of those days, my wife suggested we drive to a local outdoor nursery to buy some flowers.

So, the next day we woke up early and headed out the door. We bought and planted a variety of flowers and herbs, transforming our dull cement decking into a color-filled utopia.

As the flowers bloomed, we noticed bees and butterflies visiting our backyard. Inspired by our new little visitors, my family gave me a hummingbird feeder for my 50th birthday. I quickly added other bird feeders, hanging them on trees around the yard.

Nowadays, each morning I drink coffee, answer emails and welcome butterflies, hummingbirds and cardinals to the day. They greet me back with chirps and fluttering waves.

My family makes fun of me, teasing me that I went from 50 to 80 overnight. However, I like my new life for the time being. It pours light and joy into my life each day.

We all need a little light in our lives. May you and yours find a light that brings peace, warmth and hope to you and those you love.

The great Leonard Cohen wrote and sang these words on his 1992 release, Anthem, “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering; there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

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