Approaching the shortest day of the year, light becomes increasingly important. So I really appreciated a visit to Waddesdon Manor to see their annual display of winter lights. Even on the short bus trip ferrying us from the car park to the house we could see the slope scattered with hundreds of yellow lights. The House was lit up with a changing display of colours and snow flakes; the Christmas fair stalls also made a square of glowing light.
There were two walks, in one there were trees illuminated with primary colours, red, green, blue, A feature was the sequence of lights linked to the music of Handel. The other had Chinese lanterns decorated by 4,500 children from local schools. The theme was hope and the walk was entitled ‘When you wish upon a star’. Each lantern, either a globe or a box had the name of the child and their wish. It was both magical to look at and uplifting to read the messages.
The Stables area serving refreshments was decorated with two giant baubles, big enough that a family could stand inside. In one of the rooms there was a light installation, ‘Parallel Lines’ which consisted of coloured tubes which moved and changed in harmony with part of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
We have put up our Christmas lights early this year, as many have done. We need the hope and joy that they give us. My head tells me we need both dark and light. But my heart still lifts when I see the twinkling of the multi-coloured lights.
The Quaker tradition makes a lot of the symbol of light, (and seed and spirit), which ‘overcomes darkness’. Sitting in the corner of the Meeting House on Sunday, following COVID-19 social distancing, I found myself remembering the phrase from the Sunday School Chorus, written by Susan Warner,
Jesus bids us shine, With a pure, clear light,
Like a little candle, Burning in the night.
In this world is darkness, So let us shine–
You in your small corner, And I in mine.
This was closely followed in my mind by the words of ‘Let your little light shine’.
The world is not completely filled with darkness, but having our light shine will make the world a brighter and better place.