Tag Archives: lamp

13 December, Advent Light XIII: The bell strikes one.

The bell strikes one. We take no note of time 
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue 
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke, 
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
 It is the knell of my departed hours: Where are they? 
With the years beyond the flood.  
It is the signal that demands despatch: 
How much is to be done? My hopes and fears 
Start up alarm’d, and o’er life’s narrow verge 
Look down—on what? a fathomless abyss; 
A dread eternity! how surely mine! 
And can eternity belong to me, 
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour? 


How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, 
How complicate, how wonderful, is man! 
How passing wonder He who made him such!  
Who centred in our make such strange extremes! 
From different natures marvellously mix’d, 
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds! 
Distinguish’d link in being’s endless chain! 
Midway from nothing to the Deity!" 

From "Night Thoughts" by Edward Young.


Edward Young was a contemporary of Samuel Johnson so did not know the mixed blessing of electric lighting! George Gilfillan, his editor of 1853, described,'his lonely lamp shining at midnight, like a star, through the darkness, and seeming to answer the far signal of those mightier luminaries which are burning above in the Great Bear and Orion.' Surely he had a few sleepless nights. We can turn to Saint Paul for further comment.

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-10)

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12 December: Advent Light XII: Fill my lamp.

We read a prayer of Saint Columban on his Feastday; here is another prayer taken from his Instructions. An Advent Prayer indeed!

I beg you, my Jesus, fill my lamp with your light. 
By its light let me see the holiest of holy places, 
your own temple 
where you enter as the eternal High Priest of the eternal mysteries. 
Let me see you, watch you, 
desire you. 
Let me love you as I see you, 
and before you let my lamp always shine, 
always burn.
AMEN

Thought for the day:

let my lamp always shine, 
always burn.

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29 September: The deep Love in all the World

On a windy night


The night was far advanced. I closed the book with a bang and flung it on the table. Then I blew out the lamp with the idea of turning into bed. No sooner had I done so than, through the open windows, the moonlight burst into the room, with a shock of surprise. That little bit of a lamp had been sneering drily at me, like some Mephistopheles: and that tiniest sneer had screened off this infinite light of joy issuing forth from the deep love which is in all the world.

What, forsooth, had I been looking for in the empty wordiness of the book? There was the very thing itself, filling the skies, silently waiting for me outside, all these hours! If I had gone off to bed leaving the shutters closed, and thus missed this vision, it would have stayed there all the same without any protest against the mocking lamp inside.

Even if I had remained blind to it all my life,—letting the lamp triumph to the end,—till for the last time I went darkling to bed,—even then the moon would have still been there, sweetly smiling, unperturbed and unobtrusive, waiting for me as she has throughout the ages.

From Glimpses of Bengal Selected from the Letters of Sir Rabindranath Tagore

And we conceal the stars and dim the moon with our wasteful lighting of homes, workplaces and streets. Once again Tagore’s reflections chime in with my Christian sensibilities. I was first introduced to him by my mother, who heard of him from a Cistercian monk.

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