Glitter in the Dark Times: Unexpected Lights of Hope and Celebration

August 29, 2021

I wasn’t going to blog this week.  I couldn’t imagine how to address what is all around us.  What could I possibly have to offer anyone when I feel at the same time so very overwhelmed yet empty?

Every week, I think – things can’t get much worse.  

This week has to be the end of the dark times….but then I am proven wrong once again. Last week’s ‘worse’ is surpassed by something even worse this week and I dread what might come next week!

I am reminded of the title of that old 1961 musical, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!”  I can’t take it anymore! Being the consummate introvert, I am I want to shut down, drop out, and leave the world behind, because it has all become just too much and I am helpless to do anything about it.

We have seen such increasing degrees of darkness: the rapid build-up of hate-spewing factions on all sides, self-righteousness judgment of all others, sanctimonious political and religious posturing on all sides, cultural narcissism, social media bullying, and manipulation of truth to the point that truth is seemingly nowhere to be found.  

The consequence is that, if we have retained any self-awareness at all, we find that elements of this darkness is erupting in our own souls as well as we reactively respond to the fear-inducing darkness we see around us. 

When is it all going to be over?  

And then, in my spirit, I sense a stirring: look for the glitter…..

+ + +

Most if not all of us have had up close and personal experiences with glitter: as children, parents, Sunday School and VBS parents, childcare workers, crafters, or even as those who enjoy adding a bit of bling to our clothing from time to time. Heck, now you can even get reversible glitter on clothes – check out the kids’ section at Target sometime.  Even when not shopping for my granddaughters, I sometimes swing by the kids’ section there just to rub the glittered T-shirts ‘the wrong way’ and watch the glitter change color…..yep, simple minds, simple pleasures!  

But I digress….why has glitter come to mind this week?  

Because of the unexpected joy it brings, especially long after we think the glitter has been cleaned up and put away. 

Then…out of nowhere, something catches the light – a bit of sparkle on a face, a strand of hair, a piece of clothing – and glitter makes itself known once again!

The consequence? A smile of remembering – remembering the joy of a creative child, remembering time shared putting a celebration together, remembering stories accented by ‘glitter times;’ times now brought to mind in a surprising sparkle previously overlooked. 

Such a little bit of glitter – such a powerful effect.  

These days, I think we could use a little glitter in our lives like never before.

A bit of joy in the midst of sorrow, a smile in the midst of tears, an act of kindness in the midst of self-absorption, a breath of peace in the midst of gasping for air; a little joyful something we would have ignored in the past…before everything became so dark. 

The truth is that, even in the dimness of our struggles when we see nothing but impending doom, there is something more to be seen…..a sparkle, a pinprick of light – to make us smile with hope and a joy-filled anticipation. This present darkness is not all there is!  

And before you shake your head and dismiss my use of glitter as trivializing our current darkness bear with me a bit.

The pandemic has been devastating.  The situation in Afghanistan has just made things darker. The fires and hurricanes are just piling on.  Our spirits are dark, but only because we have forgotten to remember who we are called to be: the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).  Even on our darkest days we who follow Christ are called to be vessels of His light and shine that divine light on a world shrouded in darkness. Amazingly, as we do this, the light falls on surprising bits of humanity – glitter if you will – points of courageous, selfless, tenacious hope – right here, right now. 

Where are such bits and pieces of hope and joy to be found?

  • Courageous Afghan girls are going to school in the midst of the darkness of the Taliban takeover – they are the hope that won’t be swept away by the naysayers who diminish the will of a people to not only survive but thrive. The light of hope shines on them through those called to serve and teach these brave young women a new way – a way of empowerment and freedom
  • Civilian airline companies are partnering with governmental/military agencies to assist in the evacuation from Kabul when they could have sat idly by. Compassionate light overwhelms dark complacency. 
  • Veterans are working tirelessly to rescue those who once saved them.  Light bringing light – sharing light – increasing light.
  • An evacuation pilot bringing his/her plane to a lower altitude in order to raise pressure in the cabin so a young Afghani woman could give birth. The light of new life and hope removing the darkness of imminent death. 
  • Military members continuing to process evacuees even while grieving the deaths of their comrades in arms. In the midst of darkness of grief the light of hope rises.

In these and so many more cases, light is carried, light is shone, and the light will continue to grow in surprising ways.  

There will always be dark times. I am in no way trivializing such times. Yet, even the darkness is as light to God. Psalm 139:12

So, we must remind each other that we are still called to carry the Light and not be overwhelmed by the darkness no matter much we might want to give up at times. 

We will get through this dark time. The Lord of light is with us even in the darkest places. 

And the good news in all this? 

As we shine the light, we live in anticipation of finding those who will catch the light themselves and be renewed in hope and joy.

Look to the light. 

Be the light you long for. 

Share God’s light with others. 

Rejoice in those lives that begin to sparkle in surprising and joy-filled ways as the light of a new day, a new life, a new beginning pushes back the darkness for all of us. 

Oh, and, just maybe…..stop by the kids’ section at Target some time just for fun!

And to God be the glory!  AMEN.

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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