In the middle of the hub of 17th Street, California Street, 18th Street, and Stout Street, there is a plaza.
Throughout the year, it’s a fairly standard plaza with trees and flowers and benches. In the summer time, tables appear, ready for use for outdoor lunches.
But, at Christmas time, the plaza changes. Workers arrive early in the morning, the week after Thanksgiving, to hang lights on the trees. White lights, strung through gnarly, empty branches, shine from early evening to late morning throughout the Christmas season.
The plaza shifts from ordinary to extraordinary. All of a sudden, a place that seemed run-of-the-mill comes alive. People who normally rush through it stop.
Pause. Savor. Enjoy.
The lights make all the difference.
It’s a shame really, that the lights only stay for a short period of time. Their glow brightens the darkness of the winter twilight. Encourages me to take in their quiet beauty. Signals me that a time for reflection and gratitude is upon us. Makes me think of other lights in my life.
The light of my husband and child.
The light of my family around me.
The light of my church.
The light of friends – both new and old.
The light of a home, safety, freedom, and peace.
All these lights in my life point me to my obligation, my calling, my hope. Light, by its very nature, affects everything it touches. It sweeps in, changing the atmosphere around it, marking itself in plain contrast to any other force.
As I scroll through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and as I watch the evening news, I am swept into the darkness of events.
Shootings. Robberies. Violence against women and children. Racism. Shaming. Political fighting. Threats of war. Families separated. Kids in need of a home. Sickness. Pain. Hurt.
A part of me wants to run away from it all. I want to pretend that it doesn’t affect me. I want to close my eyes and ears and ignore the suffering.
But, I can’t.
Centuries ago, a tiny baby was born to a teenage mom. He arrived into a violent, bloody, conflicted world.
A star shone brightly in the sky, announcing his birth. Letting us know that the Light had come.
Jesus said later of Himself, “I am the Light of the world.”
It is because of His light in me and around me that I am compelled forward. His light on my heart and mind and soul has changed everything. His redemptive love pours out to me, and I want to pour it onto others. I’m leaning into hurt and pain. I’m extending a hand to orphaned kids, single mom’s, and the homeless in Denver, through partnering with other organization.
I’m paying attention to the people around me, opening my heart, praying over them with words.
I refuse to believe that the darkness is greater.
I’m determined to be a light projector.
His light is there for everyone, not just a select few. Like the sun’s rays that invade all the earth, so His love rushes into our lives, healing, comforting, renewing.
This Christmas season, while the lights are in the plaza, I’m enjoying their presence.
Come January, the lights will be gone. The trees will be bare once more.
Yet, the sacred space they carved in my heart will remain.
Because true light is never extinguished.
Organizations that spread light in the world:
Hope House of Denver, visit them at: www.hopehouseofcolorado.org
New Hope Children’s Home, Peru, visit them at: www.hopechildrenshome.org
Denver Rescue Mission, visit them at www.denverrescuemission.org
Compassion International, Inc., visit them at www.compassion.com
Red Rocks Church, visit them at www.redrockschurch.org
Adopt Colorado’s Kids, visit them at https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/colorado
DreamMakers, visit them at https://dreammakersproject.org/