We like to keep the toy selection in our home fairly minimalist. H has blocks and stacking cups. He has a few stuffed creatures and a wooden wagon. He has plenty and enough, but what he does not have are the wide array of things that, with the assistance of batteries, light up/sing/beep/toot/whir/fizz.
Folks have not bought us these things nor have we bought them for him. That is, until this week. We were at the toy store trying to find out how to best use the money we had after making a return for store credit. Thinking ahead to H’s birthday we bought him a simple shape sorter and a wooden xylophone. And, then, near the register as we stood with our fussy boy, L saw it. A garish piece of plastic, somewhat wand like, that whizzed and whirred...but most amazingly lit up and spun. Henry’s eyes crossed, his mouth gaped open and he was absolutely mesmerized. Needless to say, that piece of plastic (with the 3 triple A batteries required) came home with us.
And, every time we press the button that causes the spinning and the whirring and the flashing he is amazed. The joy upon his face is akin to someone in the midst of an ecstatic vision and there he is...having a quasi religious experience as he glories in the power of light. This piece of plastic has successfully calmed stormy tears. It has lit up a dark room and inspired laughter. It has caused us to embrace our little guy in wonderment at his wonder.
Light is something that most of us take for granted...we flip a switch and there it is. We light a match, we press a button--and it exists. However, for most of human history obtaining light was a much more complicated matter. Wax and wicks, oil drenched cloth, pitch and spark--and the sun’s rays. Light, particularly in the darker months was an elusive thing and I like to think that people greeted the light with the same kind of joy that H does as he is met with his spinning whirligig.
Thus, as I reflect on what it means to be the light in the world (Mt 5:13-20) I find myself thinking of the joy this particular light has brought to our child. I find myself wondering how we might illuminate the darkness, calm fears and dry tears. I find myself in awe at the glory that is creation. Because, the light has helped me to see--in more ways than one--what it might mean to be a light in the darkness.