Shine on!

by Elouise


Do you remember this old song? It went on forever.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! ….
Shine all over the neighborhood; I’m gonna let it shine! ….
Shine all over the whole wide world; I’m gonna let it shine! ….
Don’t let Satan blow it out; I’m gonna let it shine! ….
Let it shine ‘til Jesus comes; I’m gonna let it shine! ….

Here, brother
Here, sister
Here’s a little light
Just for you
From me

Who are you?
What do you want?
Did I ask for your help?
Why should I trust you?
Why are you doing this?

Why indeed.

Our little childhood song made it all sound easy. Just shine your little light, Elouise! Small deeds of kindness and compassion. That’s all it takes. Just get out there with your little light and Shine On. Make a difference!

I laugh now—though it isn’t funny at all. In seminary we regularly reminded each other that we weren’t put on this earth as little messiahs. As though we’re sent to make all things new or solve every problem and climb every mountain.

No, we’re mere human beings. Quite wonderful, actually. Just like everyone else. Needy, limited, proud, hungry, beautiful, happy, angry, outraged, duped, out of touch and in denial. Plus a whole lot more.

I’m not against shining our little lights. In fact, I believe it’s the only way we can together make a difference. But there’s the rub.

What does ‘together’ mean? My little childhood song was heavy on each of us doing his or her thing. This usually meant obeying our parents, being nice to people who didn’t treat us nicely, and being sure to tell people about Jesus.

The song also seemed to suggest I should already know what to do when, and would be able to carry it out. Well…not only do I not know what’s best for other people, I often freeze in my boots when it comes to actually doing something.

Hence the need for togetherness. The kind many have experienced in successful 12-step programs. This means meeting regularly with like-minded people, radical surrender to a higher power, and unblinking willingness to face our shortcomings and failures and try again.

No miracles guaranteed. But I’m a witness to the power this way of life has to bring people together. Especially those of us who’ve tried to go it alone and failed, or who live in fear that we’ll be exposed for the failures we believe we are.

Why shine on? Because it lets someone know that you’re there for them, if only for a moment. It also acknowledges your need for others in your life. Not as decorations, but as welcome travel companions—if only for a moment.

That’s what today’s word brought to my mind. That, and the ways you shine in my life.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 January 2017
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Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Shine