Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Fixing the Lamp

It seems that the lamp that has always burned bright to light my workspace and favourite reading (and sleeping) chair had worn out. For the last year or two, I've turned this lamp of mine on and off by unplugging it. The twisty switch at the top didn't function, but the fixture itself seemed fine. But last weekend, whatever bit of plastic or ceramic or wire that kept the bulb connected finally let go.

I spent part of the day trying to buy a new work lamp, but the only one I could find at a local hardware store had a magnifying glass attached, and poor though my vision is, I thought it an unneccesary and expensive extra. But I found, instead, a similar fixture by itself, and decided to make a stab at fixing the lamp myself.

When I got home, I discovered that the wires were soldered into the old fixture. This meant that I had to dig out a seldom used soldering iron that was about 30 years old, and remarkably, it worked as soon as I plugged it in (this was a good thing, as it reminded me to unplug the lamp, which I hadn't done). Changing the fixture was a snap -- two screws and the mounting bolt -- and within 10 minutes had my old cherished lamp back fully functioning.

Jesus says that God's word is like a lamp to my feet. I wonder if that lamp is like the one beside my chair? It's not much good if it isn't pointed the right way, or if the bulb is too dim. If it is swung away from my shoulder, I can't read; if it's too close, I can't see anything else in the room; if the bulb is too bright it gets hot and fries the critical bits inside the switch. If God's word is a lamp for me, it needs to be at the right distance: neither too dim, nor too bright; too diffuse or too tightly focused. Like my study lamp, God's word is only one of the sources of illumination for my life -- it provides clarity but doesn't hold me captive -- in other words, I don't spend my whole life sitting in my chair, comfortable though it is. In the Anglican tradition, perhaps Richard Hooker was sitting in his chair and noticed that scripture need tradition and reason in order to be effective.

And for people that say that the lamp is all that we need, perhaps they should get out of their chair once in a while and notice that the dog is under the coffee table next to them.

Today's weigh-in: 223 lbs. (still too much light on the supper table)


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