Lifestyle

FAITHFUL LIVING: Light of God brightens days

We call him Old Red and he lives in a chicken coop adjacent to our horse corral. His roommates include some barred rock hens and a small group of teenage roosters, born this past spring. They were given to us because their former owners worried their neighbors might call the police when their chorus of crowing started early in the morning and increased in volume as they matured.

Old Red is quite the fellow. His Rhode Island Red lineage provides him with a find broad red chest and a cascading iridescent tail that shimmers in the sun. His hat is a large red comb and his footwear includes crusty old feet with two large spurs — which he will readily use if he needs to protect his hens or fight off intruders.

During the summer he was a magnificent specimen, fully feathered, energetic and quite willing to tell the world how good life can be. I cannot recall how many mornings I leaned over to my husband sometime around 3:45 a.m. and whispered, “Can you believe the day is beginning already?”

Rather than feeling annoyed with Red’s early schedule, I felt invigorated most mornings even though I felt no obligation to begin my day as early as he did. The long bright days seemed to provide me with the time to accomplish all I wanted to do.

Many early mornings I would stride across our crunchy dry lawn in bare feet to let the king out of his bed chamber. Out he would run with an intensity that seemed to say, “Look out world, I’m a man with a mission.”

Pathetic seems the best word to describe the inhabitants of our coop these days. Discarded feathers stuck along the bottom edge of the cage serve as evidence of a seasonal molt. Our fine old fellow looks as if he has hit Skid Row.

The ladies in his life have stopped laying eggs because the days are short and gray, and Red barely manages a “Big deal. It’s another day,” crow as I head out the door to work each weekday morning.

And as much as I have enjoyed pulling out sweaters, decorating the house with the colors of fall and gathering soup recipes with titles that begin with words like “hearty” and “robust,” the short gray days can lower my energy level as well — if I let them.

My husband summed it up fairly well this week when he declared, “Well, we’re back to the breakfast-in-the-dark and dinner-in-the-dark routine.”

Physical light can be powerful, positively influencing activities and mental perspectives.

The Bible’s use of light as an illustration of spiritual truths seems more personal and salutary during the fall and winter months. I frequently turn to the book of Psalms and feel reaffirmed by God’s gentle words:

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.

(Psalm 19:8)

The Lord is my light and my salvation—

Whom shall I fear?

(Psalm 27:1)

By your words I can see where I’m going;

they throw a beam of light on my dark path.

(Psalm 119:105)

One of my favorite ways to beat the gray is to choose a new activity and this year my husband and I have joined a small group of adults who meet together once a week. We are engaging in a book study and there are two factors that unite our great diversity as human beings: we all love God and we are parenting teenagers.

We are a new group, but I can already see the signs of genuine bonding. This week frosted cupcakes, spooky ghost cookies, candy corn and almond chicken (prepared by the professional chef of the group — aren’t we lucky!) arrived with no prior coordination. This told me members positively anticipated our weekly meeting and thought of ways ahead of time to bring pleasure to those in attendance.

It’s the kind of light I want during these dark, chilly days of fall.

But the best part of being in a small group like ours is the evidence we see that God is there among us, as well.

I felt God’s presence this week when group members shared some of their deepest sorrows and greatest concerns — and they received concern and compassion and understanding, in response. After all, it’s all about love. God’s love for us and the opportunities God gives us to love others in return as a sign of our thankfulness.

I saw God’s response to our prayers when a parent, estranged from a grown child, received a phone call from that child for the first time in nearly 10 years.

God brings light into our lives and gives our hearts a little something to crow about.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is

jbklope @hotmail.com.

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