“Guess what I’m naming my new real estate business?” Dad asked. “Lamplighter Realty.”
We kids gathered round. “Why’s that?”
Dad then told us a story about the history of lamplighters—those people in the 19th and 20th centuries employed to light and maintain candle or gas streetlights. Every evening at dusk, the lamplighter would walk down the city streets lighting the lamps. At each pole, he’d set up his ladder, climb up, and illuminate the neighborhood. He’d go back and forth across the street until all the lamps were lit. At dawn, he’d come back and use a hook to snuff out the lights.
“Like the old lamplighters,” Dad said, “when I help someone buy a house, I’m helping them light the way into a new phase of their lives. It might be a new home for a couple starting a family. It could be a condo for a widow who’s downsizing. Or it might be a home for a single person who wants to enjoy quiet spaces with woods and a flowing stream. I want to find each person the perfect place—and leave a trail of light with every home I sell.”
I didn’t understand the depth of Dad’s insight when he told us that story. I was only ten. But as I ponder his wisdom now as an adult, I realize he was carrying out Christ’s invitation: “You are the light of the world; let your light shine before men that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:14).
My dad was the kind of man who didn’t preach with his words. Rather, he lived his faith through his actions. He turned off the radio to say morning prayers while he drove my sister and me to school, bowed his head to give thanks at each meal, and played kickball with my siblings and me in the backyard. Those were ways he lived and preached love.
The other day, I was about to post a nasty rant on Facebook about a politician. I was also tempted to put a swear word into one of my weekly blogposts, and I yelled at our new puppy when she demanded I take her for a walk during my morning quiet time.
I now realize each of these situations presented a choice. I could join the world of negativity and snuff out the Light, or I could be a Lamplighter.
We share the light of Christ whenever we care for others who are suffering, write emails to encourage someone, or attend to the needs of the lonely or homebound. Our positive acts allow us to share the Light of Christ with others.
We’re also Lamplighters when we turn off the “sky is falling” news, refuse to rant on social media about who or what we think is right or wrong, or apologize when we let darkness overtake us.
We ARE the light of Christ. In every act, we get to choose whether to snuff out the Light or be Lamplighters. Which do you choose?
—brian j plachta
I’ve prepared a Guided Meditation for you to experience being a Light in the world. Click on the link below, listen, and enjoy!