By Rich Hayes
Talk given Dec. 22, 2013 at The Unitarian Universalist Gathering, Great Barrington, MA

"...Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." --Marianne Williamson

How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of Light against its being; otherwise we all remain too frightened.
Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky Love Poems from God

A study completed a few years ago suggests there are a mind-blowing 300 sextillion stars in the universe, or three times as many as scientists previously calculated. That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros -or 3 trillion times 100 billion!!!

One of the scientists involved in the study, Harvard astrophysicist Charles Conroy decided to play with these numbers when he learned that there are approximately 50 trillion cells in the human body, so he multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. Guess what he came up with? 300 sextillion…

So with 300 sextillion stars, clearly there is a lot of light “out there”.
But there is plenty of light right here, too. As a matter of fact, you and I are made of it.

In fact we can picture matter as ‘condensed or frozen light’. Those are the words of
David Bohm, who went deep into fundamental philosophical questions about the core concepts of physics.
‘All matter is a condensation of light into patterns moving back and forth at average speeds which are less than the speed of light,’ he said. ‘You could say that when we come to light we are coming to the fundamental activity in which existence has its ground, or at least coming close to it.’

Bohm worked closely with Einstein at Princeton and is considered one the most brilliant Physicists of our time and what he is saying is that everything in the known universe is made out of light moving at varying rates of speed. Think about it! That means that everything we touch, taste, hear, see, and smell is light in some form.

When I bite into a turkey sandwich at lunch, I am actually eating light. In fact, everything that I consume is light.

Something else for you to consider: we also emit light. All life forms are found to emit “bio-photons” also known as ultra-weak photon emissions (UPE), with a visibility 1,000 times lower than the sensitivity of our naked eye.

Here in the northern hemisphere we’ve just passed the shortest day of the year, the WINTER SOLSTICE and with this, the beginning of the return of the sun and longer days.

This is a sacred time. Ancient peoples recognized this. The rituals and holidays so many religions celebrate are rooted in this, Jesus’ birth being one of them. This recognition and celebration predates most religion. They took this from the pagans and indigenous people who were so closely tied to the flow of nature, seeing so much as sacred. With this return of the sun comes
new life. What could be more sacred than that??

From our earliest times light has been celebrated, worshiped and held “Holy”. And now it appears our science is catching up to what some have known spiritually since the earliest of times.

In all of the world’s spiritual traditions, Light is significant. It is often representative of Divinity or some Divine aspect experienced by a human being. Light represents wisdom and understanding. Light signifies goodness and the higher aspects of reality, or our own better selves.

And that’s really what I want to talk about this morning. I want to talk about our better selves.

PBS Has a series of promotions that shows a person who is clearly excited and stimulated by an idea and something they’ve learned and, while you don’t hear what they’re saying to the people they’re encountering-you see this enthusiasm- and the person’s face and head seem to glow slightly as they speak to the other people, sharing this idea or understanding, and then their faces seem to also begin to glow. They’re caught in the “light” of whatever this thing is that the person is sharing.

So this morning my question to you is this: Are you a person who brings light? Are you enthused, alive, excited? If not, why not? It’s within you-the science supports me on this!!!
I’m speaking to the uniqueness contained in you.
There is something only you have and it is why you are here. Think of it as your own hue of light-a special unique shading.

Being musician I often think in terms of music, so I see this as a unique “tone” each of us has. While a note is a note, an “A” played on one guitar will sound different than that played on another-there will be different tonality reflecting the character of the wood and materials used to make the instrument. We are each unique “instruments”.

In the course of my workday I see many givers and carriers of light. I see it when I see an aide being kind to an angry person suffering with dementia, holding their hand and comforting them. I see it when my eyes connect with a person sitting in a wheelchair and I smile and say hello and they smile knowing they’ve been “seen” and recognized by another human being.

Some people bring light simply by their presence- wherever they are, it is. Have you ever been with someone like that?
Someone who has a “light” about them?
When you’re around them you
feel good.

Edith Wharton reminds us all: "There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."

In a few days many will celebrate Christmas. Jesus is often referred to as the light of the world but what he also said is:
You are the Light of the World.

He was saying that within you is the light that can dispel the darkness-that can heal and transform sorrow and pain; within you is That which can overcome the world’s suffering.

And he went further-he said not to hide that light but rather to let it shine so others may also see. Even if you think you don’t have much special to offer-offer it anyway.
Remember: There is not enough darkness in the whole world to extinguish the light of one little candle! Big or small doesn’t matter here! Whatever your gift is, give it!
Perhaps your gift is as simple as a smile-give it -often and everywhere.

We have been given a Great responsibility. It’s why we’re here. We are to bring forth the light we came into this world with.

Much of what happens in life dampens this light in some of us, and we forget or doubt that it was ever there. Some of us become lost until someone or something reminds us.

Albert Schweitzer said, "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.”

Help another remember their light-because when you do, you remember your own as well.

Don’t ever forget that within you is the very power that lights the heavens and all those sextillions of stars- the atoms that are now in your body as “you” have been in stars whose light has lit distant worlds! Who knows how many lives or what types of strange life have benefited from that light!

And here’s the truth: That light continues to be at the ready for you so you can benefit the strange life forms here on planet Earth!

In spiritual texts that cut across all cultures and beliefs, there are references to “Awakening”, Enlightenment, dying to the old self, Seeing anew, and almost
always these states are preceded by struggle and pain and loss…and often periods of profound darkness.

If you happen to find yourself in such a place, don’t despair. Remember the Solstice, because what is true in nature is true also in us. The light will return.

When we allow ourselves the chance to see with new eyes, become willing to think with an open mind, and to love with an open and compassionate heart, we become conduits for the light that has been sent into this world to heal it. It is
never too late for any of us.

A man I met last year had done a good many bad things in his earlier life-the kind of things you see in gangster movies. But the man I met was quite different. He was one of the kindest and most gentle men I’d ever met. He was full of love and concern for his daughter and friends. He’d changed significantly from those early years. One day he asked me why he had to wait until he was old to know that love and kindness really mattered and to lose all that anger and fear-why couldn’t he have learned it at 30? I didn’t answer him, but asked him instead, “Aren’t you glad you know these things now?” He was. He’d learned a great many lessons-some in painful ways, but learned nevertheless.

The author Sharon Salzberg wrote: "It doesn't matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn't matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years - we turn on the light and it is illuminated.”
Let me end with the words of a man who certainly had his share of struggles, Abraham Lincoln:
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.”

May the Light’s return rekindle the spark of Love existing in all of us so that we too may add to Its Brilliance.

Remember: You are the light of the world. What are you going to do with that light?