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The True Light shines in the forgotten places

Let me walk you through the streets of this city, as we stand at the corner and look on, a bystander in the forgotten places. Let me introduce you to five people who feel forgotten. And let us watch and rejoice as the True Light finds them in that place.

A girl stands at the edge of a nearby school playground, watching as people, bikes and cars rush by.

She looks back at the huddles, groups and games that fill the space behind her, but her heart rate begins to rise and her hands begin to sweat. She returns her gaze to the street, too socially anxious to approach any of her classmates. She writes stories in her mind, and like a character in a novel, she pretends to be a spy, invisible to every other student and every passerby.

Her curious eyes search the faces of every stranger, and she spots the same homeless man that she has seen many times before. She wonders what it would feel like to live like he does, and whether he felt invisible sometimes too. He continues his journey back to his familiar abode, his makeshift home. He pushes his hands further into his pockets, preparing for a cold day after leaving the comfort of the day centre where he had enjoyed a cooked breakfast and had sat in quietly on their morning bible study. His shoes are breaking, the sole wearing away. He clings to a small book in his pocket, as though it anchors him to the ground and gives him the strength to keep on walking.

He passes below the window of the student who is struggling to get out of bed. With an empty day before them, they are yet to find a reason to leave the precarious safety of their duvet. He checks his phone for a message or a call, wondering when hell finally hear back. He sighs, or maybe its a groan, saddened not to be receiving the mental health support or treatment that he needs. The depression and hopelessness, the heavy and negative thoughts are so exhausting. His phone buzzes, a kind message from a faithful friend, just enough for a faint smile, just enough strength to sit up in bed and at least consider beginning the day.

Next door, a mother throws a bag over her shoulder as she closes the door, locks it behind her and begins down the street, crossing at the end as she makes her way towards the local debt centre. She reflects on the last few days of work, exhausted, burnt out, yet still underpaid. She feels the familiar headache setting in and wishes that financial anxiety didn't cast such a dark shadow on her day. But she is determined not to let what is owed overwhelm her. A passerby with a kind face smiles at her and she returns the smile as she walks by, grateful for these little moments of kindness. The passerby stops at the bus stop and hails the arriving vehicle, relieved that she will still make it to work on time.

Thirty minutes later the passerby arrives at the prison, waving at her colleagues as she heads in to get ready for her shift. In a room in that same prison sits a woman, gazing at the wall as she loses herself in her thoughts, reflecting on the significance of the date. Today marks two years since she first arrived at the prison. Her arrest was a low point in her life, but she had since found hope in the words of the book that now sits on the pillow of her bed. She is content to remain in prison for the rest of her sentence, but it is hard not to feel weary as she looks to the days to come. She reminds herself to remember gods grace in giving us his son: "my life has value" she whispers to herself, "I will run after this good news."

This Christmas, the true light comes, and in its brilliance finds you, wherever and however you are. In our grief and exhaustion, in our joy and our gratitude, in our waiting and our daily battles, the true light surrounds us.

This Christmas, how does the true light find you?

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