The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


October 20, 2012

Keeping your face toward the Light

Keeping The Faith column


Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Aug. 19, 2006. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

By now, most of us have noticed a significant change in the amount of daylight. Since the middle of June, we’ve been losing about a minute of it per day.

I have to start mowing grass earlier in the evening. It’s still dark when I get up in the morning.

I’m already dreading the time when it will be dark by 5:30 p.m. I’m not a person who sees fall and winter as a good time to “cozy-in,” as a friend of mine puts it.

I definitely prefer sunlight — lots of it — and long evenings with extended daylight that accommodate outdoor activities.

As I was lamenting the long evening shadows that have already started to fall, I thought of this story.

A young boy sat anxiously by his mother’s bed. Fever and pain made the frail woman beneath the feathertick incoherent and restless. An operation could have saved her life, but the oil lamps in the dimly lit farmhouse didn’t provide enough light for the doctor to perform the delicate, tedious surgery. They would have to wait until morning, he told the family.

His hands tightly clasped in prayer, the boy petitioned Heaven fervently that his mother would live until daylight. By the time first light crept softly along the mountain ridge, however, the woman had slipped silently into eternity.

The pain of loss inspired the boy to make a promise to himself. Fifteen years later Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. “From the night my mother died, I knew I had to find a way to bring light into the darkness,” Edison told one biographer. He found a way to turn pain into progress, disappointment into discovery and night into day.

Edison’s challenge is open to each of us today. It’s a matter of making choices. Life sets before us a smorgasbord of joy, sorrow, victory, defeat, challenge, monotony, grief, growth, order and chaos.

If we select the positives, we have to be willing to tackle the obstacles that go with them. Nothing good comes easily.

Turning tragedy into triumph often involves great pain. Finding a way to get beyond the hurt and begin rebuilding our lives begins with the attitude that everything life presents us offers a lesson. Someone has aptly said, “Life is tough, because it gives us the test first and the lesson later.”

I seem to recall Edison had more than 600 failures before the light of day passed through a cord and into the tiny filament inside the light bulb. Each time, he recorded in his journal, “I have discovered one more thing that will not work. I must keep pressing on until I find the one thing that does work.”

Instead of focusing on the increasing darkness the change of seasons will bring into my life, it’s my prayer that I will look for ways to bring more light into the lives of others.

As the seasons of my own life change, I plan to keep my face toward the Light, so that the long shadows will fall behind me.

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