The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date: July 2, 2004
By JAMES STEPHEN BEHRENS
Every morning, very early when it is still dark, on my way to night office, I walk along a stone path behind the main monastery. Some years back we placed a small light at the top of the stairs at the end of the path. The light has a sensing device that turns it on when it gets dark.
I noticed at the base of the light this morning a frog. I stopped and looked at it. I guess he looked at me, too. I did not seem to bother him. He squatted very serenely. I smiled as I thought about his finding his place in the sun.
A friend recently wrote to me from Belmar, N.J. As I answered her letter, I thought about the crowds massing in that small town every weekend to enjoy the sun, sand and ocean. We humans, too, need our respective places in the sun.
Some of us travel far and endure great trials for that. Others seem to have been born in that magical place and, seemingly, never went far to realize a lasting satisfaction in life. Still others never seem to find a place of rest and comfort, no matter how far they travel and how much they experience.
There may be a lesson from the frog. In his own way, he was a light to me because he offered me a way of thinking warmly about life and darkness and the light.
He was not really born for that. He is, after all, just a frog. Yet all things bear some light. All things can reflect light. No formal communication transpired between the frog and me. But in our silent beholding of each other, he shared with me something of the light he had found.
And so I share it with you. Just by being yourself you are a light to many. The joys of Belmar may well be in your smile, your memories, your saying a quiet prayer to help lighten the life of another.
It is dark for some people. I am sure you know some people like that. Maybe just by being yourself and offering some kindness, some chat, some warmth, you can be a light to them. You do not have to travel far.
Trappist Fr. James Stephen Behrens lives at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Ga.
National Catholic Reporter, July 2, 2004
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