What do you feel when you look at the light?

“Forget everything else that’s going on around you,
and tune into the light you’ve been given in your hands.”

Sunbeams to me, means ‘rays of sunshine’, and that’s why I firstly focus my sunbeams class on how we can be a light. Sunbeams are single rays of sunlight, that shine and brighten everywhere they are. We are all God’s sunbeams. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, we are light bearers in the world.

How can we be a light in our life, and to the people around us?
– that’s the essential question that I base my classes on.

I approach this question with my group through talks, activities, dance and other performance methods, acts of kindness and prayer. Combined, they take the sunbeams on a journey, where they every week explore new colors and layers of this theme.

Beginning every class in grace and calm is always essential to having a good, peaceful class, filled with the Holy Spirit.

I started teaching Sunbeams, when I came to New York from Denmark this year in August to be the Creative Arts Director at Harlem Temple. I had never heard of Sunbeams before, but as soon as I was given the task of starting this group, I feel in love with the idea.

The Sunbeams group has grown immensely since then, in numbers and spirit. It started with 1 girl, then two, then 4, and now I have 10 precious girls, both from church and from the community, all are strikingly beautiful light bearers.

Since day one of our classes, we’ve started on the floor in a circle. I turn off the lights, and one candle, in the middle of the circle, fills the room with its little light, all are quiet.

I allow everyone to have a moment to settle and understand that a safe and sacred atmosphere is being created for them. Then I pass the candle around, and ask them in turn to hold it in their hands, and then when they’re ready describe to the rest of the group, how the light makes them feel. “Warm“, one says, “happy“, another girl says, “safe, like there’s no dark that can get me”, “sleepy…”, “peaceful“, “hope“.. The immediate dedication and heart that the girls reflected in this exercise was awe-striking to me. Most of them could relate to something profound within them, by this simple task.

We have established the power of the light, and then I relate it to them. “You all have this light within you”, I say, “whether you feel it or not, each and every one of you have a powerful and unique light within you!

Much to my expectation, very few of the girls receive this with confidence… They hear me, but whether they actually believe that they are so special as I tell them they are, is harder for them to sink in. Regardless of whether I had assumed this would be their response, it still breaks my heart in the moment. I recognize where they come from, but looking at the sweet little 6-8 year old faces, a profound feeling from my gut tells me it shouldn’t be like this! At this young age, children shouldn’t feel that they’re not unique, not beautiful, not enough. And this is exactly the reason why I have these classes, they are crucial to me!

I believe it is so important to get a hold of the children, at as young an age as possible, to teach them the truth of the Word; just how special and beautiful and loved they are.

The more we shower our children with love, positive and encouraging words, the more confident they will be in their true identity.

God has made you lights of this world.
You have the same effect on the people around you,
as the light in your hand,
if only you let yourself be it.
When you start to believe, you allow yourselves to be it.

This is something we can (and must) all ask ourselves. But what better age to start asking this question than the 6-12 year olds? Inspiring children to ponder over such essential questions of our Christian journey, is so important – and can really help determine the choices they later make when they step into their teens, and further on. The young girls in my group have so many beautiful and profound questions, and I can feel just how thirsty they all are for a sense of purpose. They are longing to be showered with love and understand that they have a unique gift to the world.

So in class, we practice dances that we show at church, so they can experience what it feels like when people from the congregation come up to you and tell you just how blessed they were by your dance. In the Christmas season we practiced Christmas carols to go sing for the nursing home around the corner from our corps, and they were all witnesses to the power of an elderly woman’s first big smile in months. We decorate the halls around the corps, because we want to show the rest of our church that they deserve to work in a beautiful place.

We bake for our congregation, not for a special occasion, but just because light bearers selflessly give, and in return they receive grace and joy.

Everyone longs to be showered with love. So let’s start with the children.The more the light is fed by other lights, the stronger it shines.

What do you feel when you look into the light?  I feel a hope so unwavering, that I can actually feel the warmth inside me.

What do you feel?

SS Jasmin Maria Gauguin

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