By Matt Micheli, guest columnnist
A few years ago when we went to visit my parents in New Zealand, one of the activities we did was to go through a guided tour of one of New Zealand’s most famous underground caves.
After we had descended what seemed like 1,000 feet of stairs and winded through some caverns, we entered a large room. Our tour guide gathered us all close in and shut-off the lights.
As the tour guide continued to talk, the complete darkness fell on us like a blanket. The guide had us lift our hands to our face. You could touch your nose and not see a single thing.
After sitting in darkness for several minutes, the tour guide continued the tour to a different part of the cave.
Suddenly, the top of the cave was illuminated with what looked like the night sky with a million stars.
The entire mood of the room changed instantly. We all went from a deep, oppressive and almost depressing darkness to a beautiful and even awe-inspiring state of joy and happiness.
You could hear gasps and laughter as people pointed at the array of lights. Of course, these were not stars, but New Zealand glow worms that live on the top of the cave and produce light to attract the insects that make their way into the cave in the running water.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
These tiny glow worms on the top of the cave were the perfect illustration how even the tiniest amount of light transforms our entire state of being.
As this article runs today, we are literally at the darkest days of the year.
Many of us, unfortunately, are surrounding by darkness figuratively as well. Whether it is loneliness, pain, losing a loved one, economic uncertainty, or even political strife; we all struggle with different types of darkness in our life.
The good news is, it is during these times of darkness that we are more able to truly seek light.
While on the Earth, Jesus Christ declared, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”
As we turn to celebrate His birth this week, I hope that we can focus on His light that He brings to each of us.
His light compels us to be more kind to each other, show more love and compassion to strangers, and work to make all of us feel part of our community.
I love the Christmas season. I love the focus on our Savior and His life. I love the analogies of the light that Christmas brings – the new star of Bethlehem, the lights of the Christmas tree, and the lights on houses and around town.
All of these lights point us towards the Light of Christ. I love that we celebrate Christmas at the turning point of the light. Where days stop getting shorter and start getting longer.
In perhaps the greatest example of the transformative power of light, we see that as the light begins to change and as the light continues to grow, the earth begins to thaw, and spring eventually comes.
Just like those million tiny glow worms can take a deep dark cave and turn it into one of the true wonders of the world, each of us can focus on the Light of Christ and spend our time trying to magnify that light and share it with others.
If we can do that, our communities, our towns and our state can be transformed to a better place. That is the message of Christmas. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, hate cannot drive out hate.
The Light of Christ is the most powerful force on Earth.
Sharing it freely with others will transform each of us individually and all of us collectively. As that light continues to grow, the cold frost of winter will recede, and spring will come.