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'This little light of mine'

What good does my candle do when others' lights are neon?

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I first heard the Negro spiritual, "This little light of mine," in the movie "Corrina, Corrina" from the 1990s, which tells the story of a nanny, played by Whoopi Goldberg, whose love and manner bring joy, comfort, and renewal to a family who has lost their mother.

At one point after the young daughter has made some progress in recovering from that loss, she sings the song to her grandmother, mourning the death of her husband. She comforts her grandmother by sharing the comfort that she'd found. Her "little light" brightens her grandmother's spirits, and the two begin to sing together.

The message is a reminder that little lights can be bright.

Sometimes I've wished that this "little light of mine" were bigger or brighter and that it would shed more light or make more of a difference.

Our light can sometimes seem small; others' lights shine brighter. What good does my candle do when others are neon?

But think of what just one candle does to darkness.

The light that an individual can bring to a situation or environment, whether it's in the form of insight, joy, or calm, in its simple candle-like presence, dispels darkness.

An account in the Bible shows the significance of one individual's light, despite her low social status. She was an Israelite servant girl, described as a "little maid," who waited on the wife of Naaman, a great military captain for the king of Syria (see II Kings 5:1-14).

When this young servant learned that Naaman was plagued with leprosy, she thought that Elisha, a prophet of Israel, could heal him. Her "little light," shining by the love that moved her to speak up and suggest that Naaman go to see "the man of God" made all the difference. Naaman did go and find Elisha, and he healed him of leprosy. In the process, Naaman also learned a significant lesson in humility.

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