I Saw The Lights

THE EDGE OF PAYSON

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In 1948, Hank Williams wrote a song called, "I Saw the Light." He was apparently referring to a radio beacon tower light he observed on the way back home from a concert.

When he saw this light, he knew he was close to home.

The song became a country gospel music standard, and remains so today.

The story is documented by his mother, who was astonished that the words to the song came out so reverently. "Must have been more to that light than anyone knew," she later said.

Light is at the center of life, I think. It is an announcement to a newly-born child that this is a far different world than that which enveloped him or her for nine months.

Before long, the infant begins to comprehend that most activity takes place in enlightened circumstances. Darkness occurs when there is an absence of light, and is intended for rest and recovery. Most new parents fervently wish for this recognition to take place far more rapidly than it generally happens. Slowly, a connection is made.

The Old Testament refers to a time when light became the very first change made to an earth "without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

To correct this problem, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Light seems to be crucially necessary -- a precedent to life.

A common observation verifies that most living things depend on a light source of some kind.

In both reality and symbol, light has been recognized in the history of humanity. Ancient formations like the Great Pyramid and Stonehenge are aligned with the heavens, and the sundial is apparently one of the earliest examples of a computer.

A book in The New Testament indicates that a "star in the east" foretold the birth of a new king to the Jews. In literature and in legend, there are many references to the mystical and magical properties of light.

All this has been on my mind lately, as the days grow shorter. Everything seems to be preparing for winter when there will be a shortage of light.

In the old days, this would have been a time for gathering firewood, preserving food, caulking leaks in walls and roofs, preparing for darkness and cold.

After all the preparations had been made, most families would have set aside a short period for celebration of Christmas. It would have been a meager time, but precious gifts might be exchanged.

Rare fruits and "store-bought" clothes might appear by magic and bows and ribbons decorate a bare scene.

Parents might sacrifice for an entire year to see the excitement in a child's eyes as a present was bestowed.

Perhaps an old story might be read about shepherds who were overcome by a blinding light as a signal to a monumental event.

In big cities all over the world even then, and certainly now, millions of bright lights are a signal that a huge event is to take place.

Each year seems to bring more and more. From the simple to the elaborately gaudy, light arrangements are compulsory, displaying an acknowledgement of an almost universally accepted holiday.

From small streets lit with luminaries to huge cities seen from outer space, lights shine brilliantly. All colors of the rainbow and all shapes imaginable are displayed. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is decorated. Small homes in wilderness areas are decorated.

Electricity bonds them all.

I recently drove out to the Rim on a moonless night. Star Valley establishments and some homes along the way were beginning to display colored lights.

An occasional home in the pines winked at me as I drove up Highway 260 to the top of the Rim. Then, I drove along the road which snakes its way along the edge of this great escarpment, over 6,000 feet high, until I reached a turnout at an overlook. I walked out to a point where the whole valley was below me. Hundreds of little pinpoints of light were spread throughout the rolling land below. The horizon was brightly lit at places where towns like Payson are established.

Above me was the giant Milky Way, the galaxy in which the earth and its sun are located. At a faint distance, the larger galaxy of Andromeda could just barely be made out within the Big Dipper constellation.

Galaxies are made up of millions of suns and their orbiting planets. The Milky Way is one of millions of galaxies. Light from distant galaxies is just now being observed through the Hubble telescope in outer space.

The predominant theme that night on the Rim was light. The enormous possibilities were overpowering.

Every light below me represented an earthly opportunity. Every group of millions of lights above me spoke of infinite potential. In the darkness around me, a cold wind blew steadily. Trees rustled and leaves scuttled, but they knew their insignificance.

Light proclaimed its eternity.

There was no great epiphany for me that night, but I did return with a greater appreciation of the use of light in celebration.

It reminds us (or should) of the gift of life.

As Hank's Mama put it, must be more in all these lights than anyone really knows.

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