I was driving into the sun yesterday. It was evening, but too early to be sunset. I didn’t get to see the sunset last night, but it probably was a pretty one. There were several clouds in the sky, and clouds are what make a sunrise or sunset spectacular, so it was probably pretty.
However, as I was driving, the sun DID go behind a cloud, lighting it from behind. In theater, this effect is called “backlighting”- when the shape itself is dark, but the background or outline of the shape is magnificently lit. In everyday world, on most inspirational cards, it’s called a “silver lining”. The “lining” of last night’s cloud wasn’t overly silver though. There was too much yellow in the molten-outline of the cloud to be silver. It was more like vibrant…joy. I know, I know, joy isn’t a color, but if it were, I think it would look like the outline of the cloud last night – blindingly yellow-white, almost pulsing, as if it were alive.
Noticing the cloud got me thinking about light, and how important it is. Duh, right? We need light to see. But sometimes, when used correctly, light is what brings out the breath-taking beauty of something. And that – bringing out the beauty of something – is incredibly important.
Like the cloud last night. Sure, it’s a cloud, so it’s going to be pretty. But the light silhouetting it made me take notice of that beauty.
The same is true of sunlight pouring through a stain-glass window. Sure, the window itself is pretty, but when the light comes through – it can take your breath away. It’s almost as if the window comes alive, or at least the colors are.
Often art is displayed with a specific light shining on it a specific way – to bring out subtleties in a picture or sculpture that you might not have noticed otherwise.
But the coolest example of light illuminating beauty, in my opinion, is the rainbow. I mean, if it weren’t for the light hitting the falling raindrops or moisture just right – you wouldn’t even see those colors. All you would see is a dark, foreboding cloud.
I LOVE that God does this to us. Somehow He cares enough about us, thinks enough of us, to want to display our beauty (such that it is). And, like a strong sunbeam through a cathedral stain-glass window, He sets us off in breath-taking fashion. He comes in and sifts through all our sticky gunk and smelly junk and gooey mess and finds our beauty – the beauty that He originally placed there but no one else might be able to see anymore. And then He does what He does so well – and lights it up – lights US up, so all the world can see.
The thing is, He asks us to do this as well. As His disciples, we are called to use our own light (well, to allow God’s light to shine through us) to set off the beauty of others. There are so many people throughout my life who have come alongside of me, and shown their light on me, allowing the beauty that I and the rest of the world had never seen before – friends, my mentor, my parents.
So now it’s my turn, and now it’s your turn to be lights.
I will leave you with the question that has been circling me the last day or so: Whose light has helped display YOUR beauty recently? And whose beauty are you being called to help display?