When you use a kerosene lantern every day the globe eventually becomes blackened from soot and starts blocking the light. It’s gradual, hard to notice. But slowly and surely, the light dims. So one day you tear off a piece of discarded newspaper and remove the globe and wipe it clean of soot. It’s not hard to do, the soot wipes away easily. Then you reinstall the globe and light the lantern and wow! It’s like you’ve been blind and had your sight restored. The lamp is now so bright that it almost hurts your eyes. The lamp hadn’t failed to burn, it was doing its job, but something had been blocking its output, keeping it from reaching its full potential.
Everyone has a light inside of him/her. But most don’t know how to let it shine. Some are embarrassed by their light, afraid of calling attention to themselves, so they keep it hidden. They throw a blanket of soot around their light to keep it from shining. But somewhere deep inside that little wick keeps burning, it won’t be extinguished easily.
Then one day you meet someone whose light shines like a beacon, like a star fallen to earth. Someone who has stoked her inner light and let her fire burn brightly. She has wiped away the soot and let her light shine freely for all to see.
When you meet someone like this, someone with this aura, this glowing light about her, it inspires you. If you’re lucky, you learn from her that it’s okay to release your light, to let it shine. You learn that shining your light doesn’t make you vulnerable. It won’t subject you to ridicule. You learn that you don’t have to live in fear of showing your light. So you begin to let your light shine little by little, and who’s to tell you that you’re doing it wrong? It’s yours, after all. You know best how to shine it. As is burns brighter and brighter your confidence grows until your light burns like a sun.
Everyone has a light. Some paint, others sing, or draw, or dance or make goofy youtube videos. Some people sculpt works of art from a tree trunk with a chainsaw. Some sew intricate quilts. Some make pottery. Others write. But everyone has a light. One of the most burning questions of our society is how do we identify that light and help people kindle it? How do we help teachers recognize the light within their students and nurture it, encouraging them to let it shine? If everyone learned to glow the world would certainly be a much brighter place.
So write what you have to write, and don’t worry if the words aren’t perfect. Sing, even if you sing off key. Dance. Fire up that chainsaw and find the eagle or bear that lives within that tree trunk. Cut out your scraps of material and sharpen your sewing needles. Squeeze your paints, stretch your canvas, throw your clay. But for your own sake, and the sake of all of us, just let your light shine. Each light that shines makes the world a little brighter and helps keep the darkness of ignorance and hatred at bay.