mike lives in spokane washington and is a pastor at a spirit community called branches

A Series of Questions Part 4: Lanterns

A Series of Questions Part 4: Lanterns

Spokane hosted an event called the Chinese Lantern Festival this year. It may still be going on right now actually. It was rather interesting. At it, there were a lot of lanterns outlined in the shape of animals as well as a Chinese cultural performance. But perhaps the most striking thing about it all was one section of the path where lanterns were laced by string overhead. 

A bright array of different colors contrasted with the sky blanketed in its usual blackness. Each lantern distinct and bright.

Lanterns, both historically and in modern times, are able to cast themselves into a black and enveloping film of darkness and make the dreary a bit brighter.

A lantern is a perspective changer.

An illumination that splits the darkness.

Lanterns are everywhere. We humans hate the dark so we’ve created things to combat it. 

The term “lantern” as it is classically understood, probably garners images of log cabins, 1800’s frontier families, and Scooby-doo episodes. 

But lanterns still exist today. 

Lanterns are cellphone flashlights, car headlights, or any light at all that we intentionally turn on to illuminate our vision. 

As humans, we aren’t the only ones who like lanterns. The natural world has animals that actually illuminate themselves!

This summer, I was playing golf with my Dad and little brother. We were on the 18th hole, the sun had gone down, and we were finishing in what little light we had left. All of a sudden, we looked around and began to see fireflies. At first just a few, but by the time we got up to the elevated green, we looked back and there were hundreds of them hovering above the fairway and rough. 

Little lanterns lingering in the summer night sky. 

Lanterns, tiny bits of light piercing darkness, are everywhere. 

C.S Lewis, a man who a lot of you may know as being the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, has a very famous quote. It’s one that has been said by many brilliant people from a multitude of  beautiful religious backgrounds, but his version is the one I know best. I’m paraphrasing, but it reads something like this, “Light is not necessarily something we see, but it is that which allows us to see.”

All the different “lanterns” I mentioned earlier allow us to see what we otherwise wouldn’t. Sometimes it’s in the form of a bug. Sometimes it takes the shape of colorful paper mache. But it’s always something that, if we didn’t have, we’d be left in the darkness. 

A lot of us need lanterns.

We need those things that help us see in our darkest hours. 

Help us see and understand when things aren’t as they should be. 

It’s in those times that even the littlest of light can be the hope that we need.

Those lanterns can be found through…

A loved one.

A book.

A song. 

Lanterns are always found where we might initially never think to look. But when we see them, they split apart the darkness we currently reside in and begin to guide us towards where we can start to go.

We don’t try and navigate in the dark without light. From the beginning age of man we’ve sought fire and other sources of light to give us sight when we cannot see.

Traversing in the dark is something we’ve evolved past ages ago.

So why do we often allow ourselves to traverse the dark emotional times of our lives alone?

Some questions (Please, as always, chime in below!):

What are some literal “lanterns” you use in your life consistently? What do they help you see that would be tough to see without them? Metaphorically speaking, what are some things in your life that aren’t very clear or a little hazy? Who or what in your life could help be a lantern for you in that/those situation(s)? How so? If you don’t know where to start, I’d urge you to sit and listen to music, read a book, or get coffee with a close friend and be more alert than usual. Have an open mind as to what it is it or they have to say. For more, check below!

Some potential emotional lanterns-

A Novel: Too Loud a Solitude by Bohumil Hrabal is a devastatingly beautiful account of finding beauty in area most see as, in this case, paper waste. Plus, you'll love the main character. http://www.amazon.com/Too-Loud-Solitude-Bohumil-Hrabal/dp/0156904586

A Poem: Wild Geese by Mary Oliver http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/geese/geese.html

A song: Carry Your Will by The Mowgli's. Just let this one marinade your soul for awhile...

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