December 19, 2010

Christmas and "The Little Prince"

I'm reading The Little Prince with T and R at bedtime these days and I want to share a passage from what we read last night. Christmas is a great time to slow down and focus on the important things in life. Sometimes though, I start to feel more like the lamplighter whose world is spinning faster and faster. Read on and see if you identify too.
When the little prince reached this planet, he greeted the lamplighter respectfully. "Good morning. Why have you just put out your lamp?"

"Orders," the lamplighter answered. "Good morning."

"What orders are those?"

"To put out my streetlamp. Good evening." And he lit his lamp again.

"But why have you just lit your lamp again?"


"I don't understand," said the little prince.

"There's nothing to understand," said the lamplighter. "Orders are orders. Good morning." And he put out his lamp. Then he wiped his forehead with a red-checked handkerchief. "It's a terrible job I have. It used to be reasonable enough. I put the lamp out mornings and lit it after dark. I had the rest of the day for my own affairs, and the rest of the night for sleeping."

"And since then orders have changed?"

"Orders haven't changed," the lamplighter said. "That's just the trouble! Year by year the planet is turning faster and faster, and orders haven't changed!"

"Which means?"

"Which means that now that the planet revolves once a minute, I don't have an instant's rest. I light my lamp and turn it out once every minute!"

"That's funny! Your days here are one minute long."

"It's not funny at all," the lamplighter said. "You and I have already been talking to each other for a month."

"A month?"

"Yes. Thirty minutes. Thirty days! Good evening." And he lit his lamp."

Christmas is a time to decide if we want to buy into the idea that we have to keep up with the whirling society around us. A time to question "orders," that leave us exhausted and always behind. A time to rediscover the place that is Silent and Holy, Calm and Bright. A time to be in the presence of Jesus.

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