Once upon a patch of light…and a rat named Roscuro…
A few days ago, as I was cleaning my kitchen, I marveled at how a patch of light shone through the window and across the floor. Hitting the window, the table, and the floor at just the right angle, this stream of light illuminated all the dirty spots I managed to miss.
I grinned ruefully to myself. Just when I thought my work was done, it became evident that I still had some scrubbing, sweeping and dusting to do.
As I continued to work, I considered the ways God shines His light into my life, into my heart. Just like the light in my kitchen, God has a way of exposing the spots in my life that need attention. The lie I told my best friend, my reluctance to make prayer a priority, my anger that flares in a hot minute and lambasts the people I love.
I stared at the dirt and dust in my kitchen and realized I had a choice to make. I could get to work and clean the spots or I could pull the curtains and leave the spots in darkness.
When it comes to our hearts, and God’s light in our lives, it’s tempting to draw the curtains of pride and excuses and leave our ‘dirty’ spots in the dark. It’s tempting to cover them; pretend we don’t see them, convince ourselves they’ll go away.
The work of cleaning the spots in our lives is hard and painful. It isn’t convenient, comfortable or fun. But when we let God shine His light, when we live in the light and let Him do His refining work, our lives become luminous. Luminous with His love, with His grace, with His goodness.
In The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo, paints an exquisite picture of the choice between light and darkness:
“As he [Roscuro] stared up at the man, the door to the dungeon was suddenly flung open and a thick and brilliant shaft of afternoon light cut into the dark of the dungeon.
“Ugh,” said Botticelli. He covered his eyes with one paw.
Roscurro, however, stared directly into the light.
Reader, this is important: The rat called Chiaroscuro did not look away. He let the light from the upstairs world enter him and fill him. He gasped aloud with the wonder of it.
“Give him his small comforts,” shouted a voice at the top of the stairs, and a red cloth was thrown into the light. The cloth hung suspended for a moment, bright red and glowing, and then the door was slammed shut again and the light disappeared and the cloth fell to the floor. It was Gregory the jailer who bent to pick it up.
“Go on,” said the old man as he held out the cloth to the prisoner, “take it. You‘ll need every last bit of warmth down here.”
And so the prisoner took the cloth and draped it around his shoulders as if it were a cloak, and the soldier of the king said, “Right then, Gregory, he’s all yours.” And the soldier turned and went back up the steps and opened the door to the outside world and some small light leaked in before he closed the door behind him.
“Did you see that?” Roscuro said to Botticelli.
“Hideously ugly,” said Botticelli. “Ridiculous. What can they possibly mean by letting all that light in at once. Don’t they know that this is a dungeon?”
“It was beautiful,” said Roscuro.
“No,” said Botticelli. “No.” He looked at Roscuro intently. “Not beautiful. No.”
“I must see more light. I must see all of it,” said Roscuro. “I must go upstairs.”
Botticelli sighed. “Who cares about the light? You obsession with it is tiresome. Listen. We are rats. Rats. We do not like light. We are about darkness. We are about suffering.”
“But,” said Roscuro, “upstairs.”
“No ‘buts,’” said Botticelli. “No ‘buts.’ None. Rats do not go upstairs. Upstairs is the domain of mice.” He took the locket from around his neck.
“What,” he said, swinging it back and forth, “is this rope made of?”
“The wiskers of whom?”
“Exactly. And who lives upstairs?”
“Exactly. Mice.” Botticelli turned his head and spat on the floor. “Mice are nothing but little packages of blood and bones, afraid of everything. They are despicable, laughable, the opposite of everything we strive to be. Do you want to live in their world?”
Roscuro looked up, past Botticelli to the delicious sliver of light that shone out from underneath the door. He said nothing.
“Listen,” said Botticelli, “this is what you should do: Go and torture the prisoner. Go and take the red cloth from him. The cloth will satisfy your cravings for something from that world. But do not go up into the light. You will regret it.” As he spoke, the locket swung back and forth, back and forth. “You do not belong in that world. You are a rat. A rat. Say it with me.”
“A rat,” said Roscuro.
“Ah, but you are cheating. You must say, ‘I am a rat,’” said Botticelli, smiling his slow smile Roscuro.
“I am a rat,” said Roscuro.
“Again,” said Botticelli, swinging his locket.
“I am a rat.”
“Exactly,” said Botticelli, “A rat is a rat is a rat. End of story. World without end. Amen.”
“Yes,” said Roscuro. “Amen, I am a rat.” He closed his eyes. He saw, again, the red cloth spinning against the backdrop of gold.
And he told himself, reader, that it was the cloth that he desired and not the light.”
(From The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo. Pgs: 92-97.)
Sweet friends, may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in a patch of light and a rat named Roscuro. When God shines His light into your life, into your heart, exposing the places you’re tempted to hide, don’t settle for darkness. Don’t settle for anything less than the life He offers. Let the light of the King enter your world and fill you. Soak it up, gasp aloud at the wonder of it. His light is beautiful. His light is where you belong.
Live in the light.