Monday, January 21, 2013

Carry a Torch

What is the main thing that people look for when darkness plagues? The obvious answer would be "light." Light can dispel fear, doubt, and often sorrow. For me, having adequate light spares me from stubbing/breaking toes, tripping over items not easily seen without illumination, and when I'm alone, it keeps the boogeyman away. =)

I'm a "light" person. Not necessary in the weight category, but when it comes to dark times, like the midnight shifts my husband sometimes works, I prefer to have a nightlight blazing in the hallway. It may sound silly, but it comforts me. Though my husband often teases me, this tendency helps me feel like I'm not quite alone.

I suspect that most of us are "light" people. We prefer a comforting glow in the darkness. Perhaps that's why we cheer for those who tend to be torchbearers.

What is a "torchbearer," you may ask? According to an online dictionary, a torchbearer is:
1: One who carries a torch. (I am often amazed by some definitions.)
2. One who imparts knowledge, truth, or inspiration to others. (I prefer definition number two.)

I also did a bit of research regarding the history of torchbearers. As you may have suspected, most of what I found was linked to the Olympic games. Fire, in ancient times, was considered to have sacred qualities. During the first Olympic games, a so-called eternal flame was maintained during the competitions. Today, the Olympic games are heralded by torch-runners who bear the Olympic flame from Greece to wherever the games are held. It's a time-honored tradition that can be inspiring, depending on one's frame of mind.

Here is something to ponder--what does it take to be a torchbearer in today's society? As Jennie stated in her latest post on this blog, we live in a depressed era. The economy, state of the world, acts of violence, tragic events, etc. have created dark moments. There is a great need for torchbearers--those who courageously attempt to carry the light of inspiration, truth, and knowledge. The light they carry will help illuminate darkened corners where discouragement and despair tend to thrive.

It's not easy, being a torchbearer. The current negative trend often squelches flames that otherwise would burn quite brightly. Some are quick to judge and condemn those who dare to carry a positive message. Still, there are brave souls who persist, determined to bear their flame despite this challenge. They endure exhaustion, brutal elements, and taunting as they hold their torches high, intent on passing that light to others.

The torchbearers of our day are to be commended. The light they share will go a long way toward dispersing gloomy moments. They will bring hope to those who have temporarily lost their inner flame. Their example will encourage others to make similar attempts. They are the unsung heroes during a time that honors villains, and though these valiant torchbearers often serve without acclamation, there will come a day when the light they carry will eventually illuminate a darkened world. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Each Life that Touches Ours for Good

Periodically we find ourselves touched in a major way by the example of someone else. These are people who radiate the joy that comes from living a Christ-like life. I recently attended the funeral of a woman who fits this description. One of my husband's cousins, this humble, bubbly lady was a wonderful example to all of us. It was said of her that she never said anything negative about anyone else, and I know this to be true. Louise had a way of edifying others in a quiet, unassuming fashion, typical of those who are true disciples of our beloved Savior.

A year ago, our family attended a funeral for someone else who lived a similar life. One of my great-aunts, Mary was another inspiring example. She loved serving others and was always making a fuss over her neighbors, family members, and total strangers. At her funeral, a story was shared about the time a new neighbor came by for a visit. In a typical fashion, my gentle aunt invited this man into her humble home to share a freshly baked loaf of bread and homemade jam. As she and my uncle sat visiting with this new neighbor, they eventually asked what it was he did for a living. This man had purchased a large ranch in the mountain valley where my aunt and uncle lived, and they had assumed he was a rancher like most in the area. Instead, their new neighbor revealed that he was an actor and had made several movies. My aunt kindly remarked that while she had never heard of any of those movies, she was certain he did a fine job and would succeed in his chosen vocation. Their new neighbor: Richard Gere.

As several stories were shared about my aunt's Christ-like tendencies, one of my sons commented that her example made him want to live a better life. Many of us came away from Louise's funeral feeling the same way.

Funerals for these type of people are often like graduation ceremonies. Though we miss them greatly, there is a feeling of joy that can be sensed through the Spirit. I experienced this sensation the first time during my maternal grandfather's funeral. My Grandpa Sibbett was one of my heroes. He was always doing things for other people, possessed a great sense of humor, and survived numerous adventures in life, including the death of his father when he was in the eight grade. At that time, he quit school to help support his family. A hard worker, my grandfather never lost his zest for life, maintaining a positive attitude regardless of the challenge. This would eventually include the death of one of his sons at the tender age of seven.

I remember going places with my grandfather when I was quite young. People would look at me and smile and ask if I was Glenn Sibbett's granddaughter. When I would nod accordingly, they would tell me what a great man he was--something that made me want to live up to his reputation. That feeling was magnified during his funeral. Though I was sorrowing over his passing, I couldn't ignore the strong feeling of joy that was present as well, an indication that he had truly graduated from this life in a pleasing manner to God.

The inspiring example of these loved ones gives us an indication of what is truly important in this mortal life. Fame and fortune do not matter. Fancy homes and cars mean nothing. When it's all said and done, it comes down to how we treat each other, and the type of service we render throughout our lives.

The lyrics to a well-known hymn have been going through my head this past week. They pretty much sum up what I'm trying to share in today's post:

Each life that touches ours for good reflects thine own great mercy Lord
Thou sendest blessings from above thru words and deeds of those who love.

What greater gift dost thou bestow, what greater goodness can we know
Than Christ-like friends, whose gentle ways, strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

For worthy friends whose lives proclaim devotion to the Savior's name
Who bless our lives with peace and love, we praise thy goodness, Lord above.