Waiting For Light On A Dark Night

Reflection by Leslie Cox, 2nd year M.Div. student at Columbia Theological Seminary

This summer I was taught a message of hope, peace, joy, and love by unusual teachers. I saw fireflies for the first time in the month of June. They were flying fairies of light, and they stole my breath away. It was like watching little stars twinkle and dance before me. They seemed to shine so brightly that they would have faded back into night sky to recover. It was enthralling to watch. Thus, every night I would wait until dusk, to go hunt for these twinkling dancers.

Each night I was hopeful that I would stumble upon them. It didn't matter that in between their light show the sky was dark and I was standing outside alone.

Each time they dimmed away I felt a deep sense of peace. It didn’t matter that their light show took intermissions or decided to disband altogether.

Each night I discovered a joy in this mundane routine. It didn't matter that my summer days were long and adventures felt like child’s play.

Each time love filled the night. It didn’t matter whether or not I or they acknowledged my affection, love simply was.

Unfortunately, if I’m being honest, this lesson was short lived. Like their light it appeared before my eyes then flittered away.

For many of us, this election season felt like a long, dark night. Despite flashes of hope, messages of peace, and moments of joy, the light that I have come to know and anticipate now seems far away.

The night of the election night my school held a viewing party. We sat together and waited for results to come in. To me, it felt like darkness reigned that night as the results were called.

That night I looked into my sister’s eyes as they swelled and swam with tears. She had only recently claimed the right to marry her partner. Her pain was palpable. It hurt. That night I looked into my brother’s eyes and I saw fear. He is not a citizen. He has only recently called this land home. His panic was tangible. It hurt.

Hope, peace, joy, love- no, they felt far way. For my community advent started that night as we waited for light to sneak in like a firefly on the loose.

What I couldn't see then, was that light was present in the room that night. I needed time for tears, waiting, and praying before I could identify this light. But here’s the thing. We were the light.

My school is filled with the most incredible and inspiring students, staff, and faculty. When I listen to my peers’ passions, there is hope. When I listen to my teachers’ prayers, there is peace. When I listen to our staffs’ laughter, there is joy. And when I listen to my heart, there is love.

We are the church. We are loose fireflies setting out into a dark night- each of us with a united mission of spreading moments of light. For we have found and claimed the greatest light of all. One more vibrant than a rising sun and more constant than a flickering flame. Our savior was born on a dark night, but as Mary pushed and offered her last breathless cry, light was brought forth and it has been blazing since.

About Leslie

Leslie is a second year Masters of Divinity student at Columbia Theological Seminary. She is a student intern at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church.  At Columbia she is a co-moderator of: Fellowship of Theological Discussions, Claiming Justice, and Outreach. She aspires to empower her peers to engage their passions within the Greater Metro Atlanta area. She has led these organizations to both NAACP and Pride parades, food justice boycotts, interfaith conferences and meditations, Black Lives Matter meetings and rallies, round table discussions, press conferences, prison chaplaincy training events, justice vigils, and healing services. She believes she can change the world through positive social media. Using the hashtag #MindCrushMonday she recognizes and uplifts her Columbia community. She was also recently chosen to serve as a delegate on the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and has not stopped talking about it since

About Columbia Theological Seminary

Located outside of Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia, Columbia Theological Seminary is an ecumenical seminary affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).  

This year, Columbia has launched a number of exciting new initiatives addressing social justice and service issues in the curriculum:

We held a course entitled The Cross & State: Prison Ministry which had daily off site visits that ended up in theological discussion over our justice system. It was transformative and inspiring!

We had students team up with local growers to develop a community garden. It’s small but operational. Its opened and managed by a refugee families and students.

Our new president led us in a Big Read last year. We had 94% of staff, faculty, and students meet on a biweekly schedule to discuss Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy. It’s going to be a new tradition each year featuring a provocative and relevant topic to our community.

Our writing center led a group of students and faculty in a Write-In at the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Exciting things are happening and it’s a pleasure to be at Columbia during this season!


Columbia is recognized as a one of the Seminaries that Change the World: Class of 2016-17. To learn more about Columbia Theological Seminary, visit their website at www.cstnet.edu or view their Seminaries that Change the World profile.