You are the light
For those of us with constant electricity, it’s easy to forget what a privilege it is to have light at the touch of a button. It means Jesus command to be light might feel like it demands little effort, undermining the transformational power of Jesus’ words.
But in Costa Brava, light has become a key part of overcoming the trauma of the most powerful typhoon ever to make landfall.
Costa Brava sits outside Tacloban city in the Philippines, on a small patch of land between the road and the sea. Bearing the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan, many people were killed here and all of the houses destroyed in November 2013. The community, marginalised by most official help because of its location, is still fighting for the right to be recognised as the residents of the land.
After seeing children go out to sit under a streetlamp on a busy road in order to study, community member Randy volunteered to be a ‘Solar Scholar’ so that Costa Brava would have its own light. Along with Hazel, another member of the community, they trained to use a basic solar kit that can provide light and power, particularly in emergencies. They also help individual households to install solar packs so that everyone has their own light.
Hazel explained why she was so keen to become a solar scholar. ‘For three years, it was dark here.’
Now, instead of retreating as darkness falls, people can gather together. ‘One of the requirements [of the solar home packs] is that one light is outside, so now children carry on playing, people carry on talking to each other. It used to be like a ghost town but now we talk.’
For Randy, it’s not just the practical benefits that having power has brought to the neighbourhood that are important, but the fact that ‘The community itself has become visible.’
You are the light of the world, Jesus said. You are the light of this world.
This world where increasing inequality threatens to leave many in the darkness of powerlessness and fear.
This world where the changing climate is a violence enacted on those who have benefitted little from use of the earth’s resources.
This world where those with power decide who is seen and who remains invisible.
What does it mean to be light in such a world as this?
May we be light that brings safety and security to those who need it.
May we be light whose presence demands all people deserve to be seen.
May we be light that does not further scorch this earth, but shines with a cleansing and healing power for all.
May we be light and bring light, until all are seen in equal splendour.