Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

November 7, 2007

This Little Light

I’ve been using a lantern now for a few days. Yes, there was a storm, but no, the electricity isn’t out. I just love lanterns. They bring back memories of my family at the camphouse or of stormy nights where we (as kids) got to stay up late. We’d all sit around the table together with a lantern as our only light. We’d even play games with a lantern, if I recall correctly. There’s something nostalgic about walking through a dark room carrying a burning oil lamp (or lantern, whatever you want to call it).

It’s true that using a light like this can result in huge electricity savings. Most of the time I’ve been home this week, there have been no lights on, no heater running (I keep my sweatshirt thing on till bedtime), and I haven’t had to add oil to this lantern since I bought it in January. And this can lead to us being able to share more with those in need. Lower utility costs = more surplus = more to give away to the poor = what I believe to be an integral part of the Christian walk, especially for the rich (in which category most anyone who’s reading this falls).

The original idea that I shared with Amanda is that it would be cool to make some little tradition of lighting a candle or lantern before bedtime every night, where the last task of the night is to blow out the only flicker of light in the room. Romantic, I think. Not like sensual, but romantic like “romanticism,” the 18th / 19th century artistic movement that “aimed at asserting the validity of subjective experience as a countermovement to the often cold formulas of Neoclassicism.”

It’s not about rebellion for me, though, it’s a way of going back to simplicity. My parents and wife and I sat in our apartment the other night and just talked for a bit. The floor was concrete, cause they still hadn’t fixed our floors (tomorrow’s the day). We sat on a couch and two chairs with a lantern on the floor in the middle. And it was great! Shadows bounced around the walls and ceiling, and there was a certain comfort for me in the warm light. Lanterns and candles were the only form of indoor light until electricity was discovered, yet somehow several folks survived through that stone age. Oh wait, that was just over a hundred years ago!

How far we’ve come, though. We can walk in a room and in a matter of a second flip a switch or two that will illuminate the whole room. And brightly! We never have to use the lantern’s heat to warm our hands, because our entire house is 70 degrees! Of course there are some huge advantages to the technology we have today (I’m writing a blog on a computer). But I guess I miss the simplicity of writing a letter to my mom, cuddling up in big heavy blankets during the winter time, and blowing out the lantern before I drift off to sleep. So maybe I’ll hang on to a bit of my “romantic” side and light my way like my friends do in Haiti, where there IS no electricity in the village. You should try it…you just might like it!

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