The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
— Isaiah 9:2
The scripture above has been running through my head lately. It is a part of the traditional liturgy leading up to Christmas, so, I suppose, that is the reason.
Darkness is a metaphor for ignorance and, of course, Light is a metaphor for knowledge. I struggled a little bit before writing the word “knowledge” there; I almost put down “wisdom,” but there is a difference between those two words. The difference might be thinner than a hair or wider than an ocean, but there is a difference.
Wisdom is the use that is made of knowledge. Given knowledge, there is a choice to be made, and values to be weighed in the making of that choice. If we hear a cat horking up its supper on the carpet in the darkness of the night, light will show us where the mess is, but it doesn’t prescribe action. There is a choice to be made as to whether to clean it up at once or to wait until the morning.
God made the Sun to rule over the day and the Moon to rule over the night. These are both lights that help us along our way.
The Sun is a certain kind of boss. It gives its light all day long. The Sun is always there, even behind the clouds. With the Sun in charge, nothing that is hidden from those who look. No one gets away with anything.
The Moon is different. It is not in the sky every night. It starts off as a thin slice of fingernail, and then waxes night by night, getting brighter and staying longer until it is a full orb and is there the night long. Then it does the reverse. There are things that the Moon just lets slip by because no one sees them.
There are folks who would insist that the Sun is always the better boss. To them I ask one question: Do you have curtains on your windows at home?
Knowledge not only gives us a choice, it forces a choice. When we know there are alternatives by not choosing, we choose. The cost of choosing incorrectly is regret.
Wisdom is learning to live with your regrets.
Christians read Isaiah 9:2 during the Christmas Season because we are celebrating the Birth of Jesus, and we believe that he is that Light that we people who walk in darkness have seen. That light shows us some things we’ve not seen before. It shows some potholes along the way. We have choices to make whether to step around those potholes or to simply make a home in one of them.
Christmas is upon us. The Light is come. There is a decision to be made.
— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. )