• Ellen H.

Looking for Light

Updated: Mar 3

“There’s always light – you just need to know where to look for it.” My boss’ comment jumped out at me. We were in a staff meeting and had started by each sharing our highs and lows of the week. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone’s “low” had related to the increasingly cold weather and lack of daylight. Fall was upon us and the daylight hours were getting fewer and fewer. Living in a northern climate, we knew the weather was only going to get colder and darker; we had a long winter ahead of us. Some might say that our boss, Fr. Tim, was just trying to lift the mood but I knew it went deeper than that. Fr. Tim is blind and so physical darkness is a constant reality for him. Gifted with a divine sense of perspective, he knows better than most of us how to focus on the positive and remain hopeful in challenging situations. If Fr. Tim could somehow manage to always find the light, surely I could as well! More than just a bid to adjust our perspective in the long winter months, his comment was also a reminder to be always looking for light in life’s own seasons of darkness.


My husband and I were in the midst of a long season of trying to grow our family. Month after month passed by with no positive pregnancy test for us, and all the while excited due date announcements continued to flow in from friends and family on all sides. Mirroring the weather outside, my mood seemed to grow darker and colder. Things seemed unfair and I felt depressed and frustrated. Fr. Tim’s comment had struck a chord with me, however, and I was determined to find the light in what felt like a pretty dark season for me. After yet another negative pregnancy test, I threw on a coat and forced myself outside, into the car and off to a favorite park. Phone camera in hand, I challenged myself to uncover as much beauty as possible.


Although the skies outside were overcast, my camera zoomed in and captured delicate dew

hanging off of bright red berries. Instead of accepting that the wet, damp, dismal-colored leaves on the side of the road were all that nature had to offer today, I ducked into a promising gap in the trees and uncovered a secret, hidden view awash with the vibrant colors of fall.

Walking further, I paused to soak in the view as branches laden with golden berries framed the calm waters of the meandering canal. Ducking under a dreary-looking tree alongside the path, I discovered, to my surprise, a charming sanctuary where oranges, yellows and reds sprang to life around the stark, barren branches and a rough, rambling fence. Having left home feeling downcast and discouraged, I returned feeling alive and full of hope.



Just as a photographer can choose what fills her lens, I too could choose where I allowed my inner focus to settle.


While directing my attention to the beauty around me certainly didn’t erase the difficulties I was facing, it did remind me that hope existed right alongside the challenges. If creation was unfolding in such stunning ways around me, surely my own life had its own blessings and joys developing. I just had to slow down to notice the gifts I had and trust that others would be on their way. By choosing to search for and gaze upon the light existent in nature with my camera, I had begun a life-changing practice of learning to adjust my own interior lens on life.

Hard days still come. And when they do, I gently acknowledge them, and then head outside with my camera. In doing so, I remind myself that, no matter how bleak things may appear, there is always light to be found. One of my favorite verses in the Gospel of John states, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). John isn’t saying “the darkness is all in your imagination – stop complaining!” or “the darkness will disappear if you just look at the light.” No, he acknowledges the presence of the darkness while reminding us that the light – specifically the light of Christ – is always stronger. I don’t just need to remember to look for the light, I need to hang onto God’s promise that the light always wins. Always.