Before electricity powered our cities, a network of gas lamp posts was used to light our streets. Every evening, teams of men would go their rounds to light these lamps by hand. Repeating their route in the morning to put them out. Often, people would not notice these men making their rounds as they were part of the rhythm of the day. I would imagine a curious child might run outside hoping to catch the man in the act. Only to get outside and discover her street is completely lit while never actually seeing him light a single lamp. It was common with the lamplighter that you might not see them but you know where they have been because they left a path of light.
We have examined this story with our kids and have made this a goal in our home. That people would know where we have been because of the joy we bring to those around us. For a long time we said "Waller's are Lamp Lighters." We went so far as to paint it on one of our walls spelling out “Lamp Lighter” with the double "l" in our name.
As we began our liturgy of repeating the signs to each other, we knew this one had to be incorporated and would give them a chance for a daily reminder.
It goes like this:
Dad or Mom: "Lamp lighting?"
Child: "Starts here."
Dad or Mom: "Because if we don't light lamps..."
Child: "It's gonna be dark."
In this saying I point to their heads to remind them that it is a choice they must make rather than a response to a feeling they have. The last half of the liturgy is intended to bring a sense of purpose to the mantra. That if they don't choose to bring joy to others then darkness will remain.
There is so much darkness and despair around us. From political unrest to the ever-looming threat of a virus that has killed so many. Sometimes the only joy we have felt is the joy we have decided to have. In the Waller home we know our kids can't change the nationwide tense atmosphere but they are able to make our world just a little bit less dark.