If we all join hands


Posted by to The Blog on November 1st

Sally Fraser wonders about the meaning of light in its Hebraic sense

Mr Fraser dropped a bombshell. He had always thought the T’Pau classic track China in Your Hands was about China the country. What a thought.   

Mind you, in fairness, I myself am pretty shaky with getting the wrong end of the stick with song lyrics. I was in a pub quiz once where the question was about a Simon and Garfunkel track with an animal in the title and we put: ‘I’d rather be a hamster than a snail’. 

Seriously, don’t wish too hard folks…imagine if your dreams aren’t fragile and breakable little teacups and saucers in your hands, but they are actually powerful and overwhelming. That new shed you were hoping for might turn out to be one of the biggest nations on earth. Being a size ten, or very good at yoga, or learning Italian, might actually mean holding on to a multi-billion pound economy… Can you really handle that?

Mr F, it transpires, also thought that ‘many hands make light work’ meant that lots of little hands were what made light, as in light that helps you see, work. Which is utterly fascinating. However, he felt sure I had got it wrong when I thought ‘to make love’ meant to generate it, I’m not convinced about that one, I think I might be on to something there. It’s interesting to think about these things we take for granted but might have been misunderstanding all along.

It’s like when I spoke to that gentleman in the street the other day. (Leith, I am finding, is full to the brim with prophets if you know where to look for them. Which is nearly always not where you expect, they usually have a few more tattoos than you might expect as well). Anyway, this guy starts quoting scripture at me. 

“Come to me,” he says, “all of you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. 

Which if you are in the business of quoting scripture at strangers as a cracking place to start.

“I don’t know Hebrew” he said, “but I wonder about the meaning of ‘light’ in that sense.” My mind was blown for a moment but I didn’t have too much time to think about it so I shelved it for later. 

When I got back to my computer, settling down to procrastinate from work by watching a quick Taylor Swift video on YouTube, a compulsory advert popped up. “Did you ever want to learn Hebrew?” An American voice enquired, then promptly talked us through an example; “What is light in Hebrew?” An automated voice replied. “The Hebrew word for light is OR.” 

Now, I know in the terrifying world of Alexa it’s a little bit tricky to know the difference between the Holy Spirit and surveillance, but considering I don’t even use a smartphone this seemed like it had to be either extraordinary coincidence or God having a bit of a show-off, which I tend to find he does like to do from time to time. 

And I shall not even bother going into whether the Hebrew might have different meanings, just the spooky YouTube advert thing made me think I wanted to un-shelve my Leith Walk prophet’s conundrum. What if His burden is the kind of light my husband thought many hands make?

After all, we are not supposed to hide our lights under bushels. Maybe that is an acknowledgement that having a light at all, or being light to anyone, is quite difficult and the sort of thing you might want to hide. Not just that we are prone to be modest but… if you put yourself out there, if you try and shine a little, people can be pretty horrible can’t they? 

Not everyone, but we all know someone who just can’t handle other people’s goodness or talent or kindness or general radiance and has to try and stomp all over it. 

Then who knows what we will be able to do, maybe we’ll find our dreams aren’t so fragile and breakable after all

And the more light we bear, the more painful all the dark and horrible things are. Once light is shed we can’t un-see things, we can’t become un-compassionate and disinterested again, and that hurts. Especially when there are so many absolutely ghastly things going on, and the monsters seem so monolithic, so unstoppable. 

But there has to be a crack, as we know, there is a crack in everything, and being the light that gets in might feel like a burden sometimes, but we can all do it, we will have to. Then who knows what we will be able to do. Maybe we will find our dreams aren’t so fragile and breakable after all. Maybe we will find they are both ancient and new, and powerful, and overwhelming. 

And maybe we can generate love, and maybe, just maybe, many hands really can make light work.


2 responses to “If we all join hands”

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