When you've been traveling for a time in the dark, any light on up ahead is a welcome sight. Seeing a light, maybe a porch light off-a-ways can be a gift for body and soul. Growing up in rural Illinois, especially on long, winter nights you could see for miles. Driving on lonely, blacktop or gravel roads I remember the feeling of relief when I could make out a light off in the distance. Someone was sending a beacon. Maybe someone was home.
Driving along, watching the light slowly growing brighter, I remember imagining what the kitchens must have been like in some of those farmhouses. I imagined a warm rooms with maybe wood burning stoves. Sometimes when my imagination would drift, I could almost taste the hot chocolate offered in a steaming mug. All I'd seen was the light from their porch, but their welcome filled my heart.
There are signs and memory-markers along the way as we travel this Advent path. Signs of warning and trouble. Some signs appear to tell us of a detour ahead, sometimes sending us off in a whole other direction. There are signs of welcome and encouragement. Some signs can come at just the right moment, offering just the encouragement we need. A porch light on a cold and growing-darker night is one such sign.
Remember that old motel commercial, "we'll leave the light on for you"? For one who feels weary from being too long on the road, kinder words are hard to find. These words embody a human understanding and a symbol of hospitality. They can be a sign of someone watching out for us and making a space for renewed hope along the way.