Viganella is a small northern Italian village of 197 inhabitants nestled in a deep valley among the Italian Alps. Sound like a great place to live? Maybe not. For a full three months (November through January) of the year this village sits in the shadow of the surrounding peaks and receives no direct sunlight at all. This makes for a bone-chilling winter and causes significant suffering among the village’s elderly residents. But recently the Italian government installed a giant (16- by 26-foot), sun-tracking mirror on nearby Mount Scagiola (3400 feet above sea level) that reflects the sun’s rays down onto the town’s square, an area that comprises several acres. This allows residents to find warmth and light when they would otherwise dwell in the icy shadows.
This is not an isolated example. Recently, an Austrian manufacturer, Bartenbach Lichtlabor, in cooperation with the European Union, has embarked upon a series of similar projects. The goal is to install giant mirrors on mountainsides to bring sunlight to darkened towns throughout the Alps. These projects are costly. The price for each one ranges between $600,000 to well over $1 million. But the government simply recognizes the critical human need for light.
And isn’t that the very heart of our mission to the community in which God has placed us – to reflect His light and the warmth of His love where it is needed most? However, we are not called to reflect God’s light from a safe distance, from high above on a mountain, detached from the world’s suffering. Jesus actually said: “You are the light of the world … Men do not light a lamp to hide it under a bowl or from under a peck measure, but to put it on a lampstand that it may give light to all in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). It’s nice and cozy and warm and safe under that bowl and under that peck measure. But that is not where we belong. We need to shine where it’s darkest and where the light will not otherwise shine. This is the reason God often removes us from our comfort zones and puts us in those dark and difficult places. He wants us to brighten our world.
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, help me to shine the light and warmth of your love in the marriage, home, and workplace you have placed me. Amen.