A Lesson from Christmas Lights

Three years ago, we moved back to our original home, after making significant changes to it. We also took the move as an opportunity to pare down our possessions, which included the outdoor Christmas lights that were unused for many years. We didn’t replace them until this year, when we invested in blue meteor shower lights, plastic tubes in which the bulbs cascade from top to bottom. We’ve had at least one regular walker tell us that she walks her dog one more time each day so that she can enjoy our lights! As we are on a main street in our city, many vehicles and walkers pass by, and we hope they are all enjoying the lights as much as we are.

At least, as we were until we discovered a problem. Strongwinds, made known to us through the ringing of our Soleri bells from Cosanti in Phoenix, Arizona, had an unexpected effect on our meteor lights. I looked out the front window and discovered several “gaps.” It looked like some of the lights had disappeared. On inspection, we found they had been blown by an updraft, and were now resting in the storm gutters! We realized that a daily routine of getting the ladder and restoring the lights to their rightful place was not something we had anticipated. After considering options, Dave attached small brads to the eaves, and used a loop of picture framing wire to anchor the lights. Fortunately, my previous career as a picture framer left us with a plentiful supply of brads and picture wire. So far, the fix has kept the lights hanging down instead of blowing up.

Sometimes, the problems of our lives can be resolved because of what we’ve accumulated in the past. Just as the brads and picture wire were repurposed to solve a current problem, the wisdom we’ve accumulated can be a source of inspiration and hope for the present and the future. Disappointments are part of most lives: unreturned love, promotions and awards not received, deaths that break our hearts, diseases or injuries that affect our abilities. . . . Too many to name. How we respond to disappointments and troubles affects our lives. Those who choose to focus on the problems often feel overwhelmed and incompetent. Those who figure out a way to live with, or relieve, problems usually discover there are possibilities available.

Until I broke my arm some years ago, I thought a broken arm was no big deal. Then I realized how many every-day activities and movements depended upon two useful arms! Even sleeping involved finding a new position that kept my arm from hurting. There were times when I wanted to sit in a chair and do nothing. Fortunately, that wasn’t an option, so I had to figure out a new way to accomplish what needed to be done.

Though I wouldn’t wish a broken arm (or anything else) on anyone, I did accumulate some wisdom from the experience. I no longer think of anyone’s pain as “no big deal.” I’m also more likely to consider other ways of meeting challenges, rather than giving up in frustration. [Sometimes I discover an easier way to do things than what I’ve always done. I learned a more efficient way of slicing apples from watching Chopped.] For almost nine months, we’ve been confronted with a problem that is both personal and communal. The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to alter our ways of living and relating. We’ve responded in many ways, some more helpful than others. Some of us have discovered more efficient ways of doing things. Some of us have learned new methods of communicating and maintaining daily life. We may or may not go back to “the way things were.” We’ve used our brads and picture frame wire to keep the lights shining. And that’s a very good thing.


Stay safe and be blessed,

Pastor Barbara

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