Many of us were introduced a few weeks ago to Amanda Gorman. You may recall that Ms. Gorman is the 23-year-old hopeful young poet who spoke at the inauguration of President Biden a few weeks ago. With her bright yellow coat, Ms. Gorman stood strong and embodied the good news of her words titled, “The Hill We Climb.” I love how her poem opened with a question, “We ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?”
Ms. Gorman’s opening question is an important question for all of us to ponder. When we think of our nation struggling in the shadows of a pandemic, racial unrest and deep political and social divisions, we may all feel the need to look and search for goodness, hope and “a little light” in what seems to be a “never-ending shade”. Whether we voted for President Biden or President Trump, whether we agree or disagree with policies of Congress, or decisions passed by the courts; as citizens, we all get to live together in the same country and community.
As I think of the poem from Ms. Gorman, I give thanks for this young woman who courageously invited all of us as a people to pause and think deeply about this all important question, “Where can we find light?”
Her question reminds me of the message of light that weaves its way through the pages of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. When we think of our God we remember that in creation God spoke light into existence saying, “Let there be light, and God saw that the light was good and God separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:3). In the Psalms we read of King David who sang, “The Lord is my Light and my salvation whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27: 1). In the Gospels we read of Jesus who spoke and blessed humble Galileans saying, “You are the light of the world...let your light shine” (Matthew 5: 14-16). In Revelation we find that throughout eternity there will be no more darkness, “for the Lord God will give them light.” (Revelations 22: 6).
Our scriptures point us again and again to the truth that God is the source of all goodness, love, and light. According to our holy texts, we human beings cannot generate love and light without the grace of God. According to our scripture, God’s light requires a certain amount of curiosity, humility, and openness to the truth and that no one can manufacture light, life, and love on their own. As the brother of Jesus shared in his writings to the early church, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights from whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
So, turning back to Amanda Gorman’s questions, “Where can we find light?” Where do you seek light? Where do you turn for energy and hope?
I think of these upcoming colder days of February as we all long for normalcy and hope for the darkness of division, anger, and this pandemic to dissipate and vanish. I pray that in our longing for light we will all take time to turn from the ease of divisive rhetoric and humbly lift our eyes and our lives to the creator and source of light. The one who calls us to reflect God’s grace and light.
“For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it,
if only we’re brave enough to be it.”
Dr. Cory Smith is the Senior Minister of Auburn United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, The Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.