Hold Up Your Light

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Dear Will:

On Saturday night, my wife and I served as chaperones at a monthly dance for the youth of our church. Kids came from a surprisingly wide radius, so there was a pretty good crowd. Although dances these days are very different than when I was a teenager, they all seemed to be having a really good time. It seemed to be good clean fun.

At one point the kids formed a tight circle in the middle of the gym, preventing us chaperones from observing what was going on within. To make matters worse, the DJ pretty much killed the lights, leaving it to the kids to illuminate the dance floor with their cell phones. Trying my best to be vigilant without being Captain Buzzkill, I wandered closer to see what kind of mischief they might be making.

The kids were pumped. As I approached this scrum, virtually every phone in the place was held aloft, creating a spotlight effect at the center of the bouncing circle of teens. And at the center of the circle? A boy with Down syndrome, doing his best John Travolta while the rest of the kids cheered him on.

He was loving it. And so was I.

In a different place with a different set of kids, you might imagine something far less virtuous when you see a group of rowdy youths gathered around a kid who is “different.” So it was heartening to see these young followers of Christ doing their best to emulate their Role Model. He showed the way and then challenged each of us to go and do likewise (Luke 10:37).  And they did.

Their timing could not have been better. As December is now upon us, the Church has embarked on an initiative to encourage all people everywhere to make an effort to “Light the World” through simple acts of service. Here’s a video that introduces the idea.

Dana and I have determined to accept the invitation, and I hope you will too. You should download this advent calendar that the Church put together with a different world-lighting idea for every day of the month leading up to Christmas. What a great way to embrace the spirit of the holidays.

Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I hope that this Christmas season we will all hold our lights high and bring happiness to whoever comes within our circle.

PW

#LightTheWorld

Scarred for Life

Dear Will:

On the outside of my right arm, maybe five or six inches up from the wrist, I have a scar about the size and shape of a kidney bean. When I point it out to people, I always tell them that I got it when my mother attacked me with an iron.

Of course, that is a less-than-accurate retelling of a story I can no longer quite remember. There was an iron, for sure. And a curious, dimwitted, clumsy boy who I’m pretty sure was me. Afterwards there was a scab—I do remember that part (because when you’re a dimwitted boy, scabs are super cool). But the rest of the memory is pretty sketchy.

What I do recall with clarity from those long-ago days is growing up in a house filled with lots of other children and the corresponding chaos that ensues when you have seven kids crammed together into a single, middle-class home. And I remember a brief window of time each day when everyone else was at school or napping or whatever and I had my mother pretty much to myself. It’s so long ago that I have little more than a few mental snapshots left of that era, but one of those snapshots would show me lounging on the floor at the foot of the ironing board. My mom was ironing this, that, and the other thing while telling me stories. Or maybe we watched Art Linkletter together—just the two of us. I’m pretty sure it was Art, anyway. Either that or The Match Game. Either way, it didn’t really matter.

What’s left of that memory is telling. The stories and the television programming barely register. The pain and tears and trauma of the injury? Gone completely. But the feeling of one-on-one time with the greatest woman on the planet? Treasured still, even fifty-some years after the fact.

Brings a whole new meaning to the term “scarred for life,” now doesn’t it?

I think of her, and the words of Jesus reverberate in my head: “Go, and do thou likewise,” He said (Luke 10:37). I look down again at my arm and it occurs to me: I need to spend a little more time with my son. But just in case, I think I’ll leave the ironing board in the closet.

PW