Alexander Von Humboldt was one of the most amazing thinkers of the 19th century. He combined a keen scientific sensibility with a deep poetic sensibility. He intimately, exhaustively studied nature, but he was also moved by nature and in awe of the world around him.
On one expedition, he writes about the influence of a lone palm tree. It is a wind block. The tree with its fruit and leaves attracts birds. Sand builds up around the base of the tree. The soil on the side of the tree away from the wind retains moisture long after the rainy season. Insects and worms, scarce elsewhere, accumulate in the moist soil. One tree has a big impact upon its surroundings. [See Humboldt’s Cosmos, Gerard Helferich, p. 185]
This assessment of the impact of a palm tree, not likely to even be noticed, helps us to see the influence we may have when we shine the light of Divine universal love. When we shine the light, we may be having an influence in many ways. We may be subtly or not so subtly affecting the circumstances around us. We may be creating networks of people and projects. We may be offering protection. We may be helping others. We may be offering encouragement that is needed. There are so many ways we may be influencing things around us when we shine the light – improving the world around us and making things better for others. And we may have no awareness of the effect we are having. We may never know.
This Advent season is also a time to think about how others have been a light for us. Each one of us has received inspiration, encouragement, and support from others who are shining the light for us.
As we approach Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we reflect on the ways his light changes the world. We also trust that when we shine the light, we, too, are changing the world. The light still shines!
Prayer: May we welcome the Light of the Divine and let it show us the way. Amen.
You may want to note in your journal something you have done which has changed the world because you HAVE changed the world!
The Micah Center is shining the light of support for students. Don’t forget to put some money in your can today.