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December 26, 2008

Let it Shine

"This little light of mine -
I'm gonna let it shine ..."
- Negro spiritual

At first glance, you might not even notice it:

It’s just an average-looking evergreen tree in a small-town park. It doesn’t have the prominence of Carmel Valley's tall pines, or the asthetic beauty and majestic strength of its abundant oaks.

Eleven months of the year, there’s nothing to really distinguish this tree from its more distinctive, more impressive cousins who share the little plot of open space where families hold barbecues and kids play soccer. Even during the 12th month, if you pass this tree in daylight hours, most people wouldn’t even give it a second look.

But in the month of December, when the sun sets behind the ridgeline and the sky grows black, a brand new tree emerges:

The average-looking evergreen assumes a brand new, unmistakably important identity. It becomes the Carmel Valley Christmas Tree. It’s visible to everybody who drives past the park, and serves as one of the few reminders of the holiday season in our laid-back, warm-weather village.

Now, the tree doesn’t decorate itself, and there’s no reason why another tree wouldn’t work just as well for this task; but year after year, this is the tree that’s chosen. And perhaps – because it is just an average tree – there’s something to be taken from its presence in the community park. If we look really hard, maybe we can see something of ourselves in the tree.

Despite how we sometimes feel, none of us are ever just average. There’s a radiance we can display, even if it’s only at particular times or under certain circumstances. We rely on help from others, but in doing so, we become more vibrant than we ever imagined. In doing so, we might inspire others to seek the important things in life as well.

Be proud of who you are. Don’t fret about your standing in life. Accept the goodwill of others. Share your beauty with the world.

And never be reluctant to let your light shine.


Postscript: as strange as it seems, you may not find a more stirring, more uplifting version of this old Negro spiritual than the version Bruce Springsteen - white, working class, rock hero Springsteen - performs in concert. Click and enjoy:


Backofpack 12/27/08, 12:26 PM  

You know what I like about that video? They look like they are having so much fun! I like the music too.

Your post has a great message Donald, and a nice (and timely) reminder.

Annette 12/28/08, 3:30 PM  

Awwww. . . kinda makes you think.

Darrell 12/28/08, 5:16 PM  

That is just good rockin' fun. Loved it.

Sunshine Girl 12/28/08, 9:02 PM  

Hallelujah, brother Donald!
Thanks for sharing your gift of being an articulate and funny guy! And heck, yeah, I enjoyed and appreciated the message.


Deene 12/29/08, 7:46 AM  

cool! i remember learning that song from way back in Sunday school, we rocked back and forth holding one index finger up and the other cupped hand to protect the flame while we sang completely off key.

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