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Meaningful Reflections with Chaplain Kim Crawford Meeks is a monthly column that provides words of encouragement for associates at USA Health.

Published Nov 29th, 2022

By Kim Crawford Meeks
Spiritual Care Manager

A shared focus on light is found among varying belief systems as the light of life, the light of love, and the light of a higher power. It is taught that in a world of darkness, we should focus on the light. At times it is easy because the light is shining as a brilliant beam, but more importantly, we should focus on the light when times are challenging, and it seems to be only a tiny flicker. The light shared by all of us is hope. Many families and places of worship light candles or lamps as the symbol of light in their belief systems.

In Christianity, it is taught that God’s Word is a “lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

God lights the next step we need to take, when we need it, and wants us to rest on the step we are on.

Wise men from the east followed a bright star to find the newborn King. Imagine the brilliance, wonder and awe as they followed the bright star. Christianity teaches that a Savior was born into the world so that we would have life here on Earth and life in Heaven.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

In some Christian belief systems, an advent wreath is often used to anticipate the coming of the Savior. The advent wreath is an evergreen wreath with four candles, sometimes with a fifth white candle in the center to represent the Christ child. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time or prayer. An additional candle is lit on each subsequent Sunday until, by the last Sunday of Advent, all four candles are lit. If there is a fifth candle, it is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

There may be darkness, but there is always light somewhere in the darkness. Sometimes a small flicker, and sometimes a brilliant beam of light. We must look for the light.

In Judaism, a menorah offers light during Hanukkah. Judaism teaches that God first commanded Aaron and his descendants to light the menorah in the Tabernacle and then the Temple in Leviticus. The menorah symbolizes the light of God and the light of the Torah bringing the light that God desires into every generation and sharing light with others.

In the time of the temple 2,000 years ago, one of the services performed each day was the lighting of the menorah. A Greek army came and forbade the Jewish people from doing many commandments in the temple, took over the temple, and broke all of the jugs of oil. A small Jewish population stood up to the larger Greek army, and God made a miracle. Although the Jewish people were fewer in number, they won the temple back but couldn’t find any pure olive oil. They found one glass of oil, which was expected to last one day. They sent people to travel for days to get olives and process them for more oil for their lights. The oil did not burn up at the end of the first day as expected, but burned out on the eighth day as the Jewish travelers returned.

Hanukkah celebrates an eternal triumph of God’s light over all darkness. Lighting the menorah is to light up the darkness of the world. The hope is that this little bit of light will cancel out the darkness. Instead of trying to correct the darkness, the smallest good deed could bring light to someone’s life.

“Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, In the light of thy countenance. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” (Psalm 89:15)

There may be darkness, but there is always light somewhere in the darkness. Sometimes a small flicker, and sometimes a brilliant beam of light. We must look for the light.

Kwanzaa traditions are practiced during a week in which families share a feast to honor ancestors, affirm the bonds between family members, and celebrate African and African American culture. Each day a candle is lit to highlight the principle of that day. The table is decorated with the essential symbols of Kwanzaa, such as the Kinara (the candle holder), mkeka (mat), muhindi (corn to represent the children), mazao (fruit to represent the harvest), and zawadi (gifts).

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou

"As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." – Nelson Mandela

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." – Martin Luther King Jr.

There may be darkness, but there is always light somewhere in the darkness. Sometimes a small flicker, and sometimes a brilliant beam of light. We must look for the light.

In Islam, the Quran says, “Allah has the most Beautiful Names. So, call upon Him by them.” (Al-A’raf, 7:180) One of the Beautiful Names of Allah is An-Nur or the Light. The chapter of An-Nur expresses this, and the key importance of His light:

۞ ٱللَّهُ نُورُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِۦ كَمِشْكَوٰةٍۢ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ ٱلْمِصْبَاحُ فِى زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ ٱلزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌۭ دُرِّىٌّۭ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍۢ مُّبَـٰرَكَةٍۢ زَيْتُونَةٍۢ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍۢ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍۢ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِىٓءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌۭ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍۢ ۗ يَهْدِى ٱللَّهُ لِنُورِهِۦ مَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْأَمْثَـٰلَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمٌۭ ٣٥

“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. His light is like a niche in which there is a lamp, the lamp is in a crystal, the crystal is like a shining star, lit from the oil of a blessed olive tree, located neither to the east nor the west, and whose oil would almost glow, even without being touched by fire. Light upon light! Allah guides whoever He wills to His light. And Allah sets forth parables for humanity. For Allah has perfect knowledge of all things.” (An-Nur, 24:35)

There may be darkness, but there is always light somewhere in the darkness. Sometimes a small flicker, and sometimes a brilliant beam of light. We must look for the light.

As a chaplain, I walked into a hospital room one evening. In the corner of the room was a 4-foot-tall plastic, vintage Santa Claus shining brightly. I asked if it belonged to the patient. The family proceeded to tell me that Grandma had that Santa for 40 years. They celebrated their mother/grandmother/great grandmother with many stories, laughter and devoted love. Santa was doing his job as he has for this family for 40 years, offering light in their hearts. The light shining through the plastic was a simple bulb, and yet so much more. It illuminated their hearts full of memories as they became children of joy. It was as if the light shone brighter with each word they spoke in adoration of their beloved Grandma as she passed to her eternal light.

There may be darkness, but there is always light somewhere in the darkness. Sometimes a small flicker, and sometimes a brilliant beam of light. We must look for the light.

Find your light.

Follow your light.

Be the light.

Know that your light matters.

Shine brightly!

Please visit the Advent wreaths, Menorahs, & Kinaras, which will be located in the lobbies at University Hospital, Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile and the Strada Patient Care Center.

The Advent wreaths will be out for the month of December.

Menorahs will be out during Hanukkah, Dec. 18-26.

Kinaras will be out during Kwanzaa, Dec. 26 – Jan. 1.

Ramadan will be honored Wednesday, March 22, to Friday, April 1

Tip: Inhale through the nose for a count of 6; hold for a count of 7; exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat.

Patients, family members and USA Health associates are encouraged to call the Meaningful Reflections Line at 251-445-9016 for a daily recorded word of encouragement.


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