We cannot survive without light. And, as the days grow shorter we find ourselves in darkness far too often. Thus, we find ways in which to endure the long days ahead—with light. Brightly peering through the darkness we see light cast from candles, and fireplaces, light from the porch to greet us at the end of the day, warm and filling food to fill our bellies, lights strung from our houses and shops. As I contemplated the role of light in our lives I found myself recalling a story from my own childhood:
The sun was too quick in its daily work, swiftly crossing the sky and leaving little time for those down below to accomplish their daily tasks. In particular, this brought much consternation to an elderly woman on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean. One day, as she hung out the freshly washed Tapa cloth to dry she complained to her grandson about the sun’s swift course and how her cloth would not be able to dry in the short period of time that the sun was shining. Now, most of the time such complaints would be merely an airing of grievances—a grandmother sharing with a grandson the difficulties she faces in life, without any expectation that he would actually do something about it. However, not every grandmother has a demi-god for a grandson. So, Maui, hearing his grandmother’s complaints grew very angry at the sun and came up with a plan. Taking his longest ropes, made from the fibers of the coconut, he hid in the house of the sun (Haleakala) waiting for the sun to emerge and bring with it the morning light. From behind a giant rock he aimed carefully as the sun peeked from his house. Casting the rope he snared the sun. With stern admonitions he told the sun that if the sun did not slow down not only would his grandmother not have time to dry her cloth but the people would perish because there would not be time or light enough to grow food in their gardens! The sun, hobbled by the bindings, was thus forced to limp across the sky each day--giving the people (and Maui’s grandmother) time for all of their tasks.
This folk tale brings home the reality that light and our survival are intimately connected. With this reminder, I contemplate the “light of Christ”. If it is the light from the sun that allows our planet to exist…what is it about the light of Christ that allows each of us to grow and thrive?
(the art work of Holy Innocents church, Lahaina, Maui)