74: The Returning Light

74: The Returning Light

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

The Returning Light

If we shall take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every year, as soon as Halloween is over, our son Matthew waits for the lights. He’s been doing it for more than a dozen years. As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, as the temperatures drop and the leaves fall, he waits for the lights. He knows that they will come.

The neighbors across the street always put up a beautiful and brilliant (and tasteful) light display for the holidays and Matthew loves to wait for them to be turned on, which usually happens right after Thanksgiving. But he begins his vigil a month before their arrival. And then, each day between Thanksgiving and until the lights are turned off after the new year, he waits, excitedly, from mid-afternoon on. Each day he’ll stand by the front windows or walk back and forth between the windows and the front door, in energetic and coiled anticipation, laser-focused, undeterred, intent on the moment of their nightly illumination.

And when each evening’s moment comes, you don’t have to be right with him when that moment occurs. You know it no matter where you are in the house. The effervescent squealing. The rhythmic clapping. The dancing around the house, the steps staccato, loud, repeated. It’s pure joy. Pure delight on his face! And it happens every single night.

He waits for the lights. During the darkest days of the year. He stands and he waits. Transfixed by those lights brightening the dim, winter sky.

For all his limitations, in the world’s view — his severe mental disabilities, his autism, his two-year-old mind in a twenty-three-year-old body, his inability to speak — Matthew knows something very profound, that light will shine in the darkness, that no matter how dark, how long the wait, eventually, and without fail, those lights will shine again. No matter how many seasons of the year without them, there will come a season when those lights will shine again. They always do.

Life brings its own seasons of darkness. Desperate, at times. Lonely. Painful. Full of fear. But despite those seasons, a new season can come and the light can be seen again. Whatever darkness I find within and around me, I look to my son, and remember that a light can pierce that darkness and can begin to bring beauty and joy again.

In that I find my hope and my happiness.

~Michael D. Gingerich

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