It’s not that easy to get used to.
Every time you walk up the road and every time you pass by a group. As you stroll out of your house and head to the store, as you pass the women with bright head scarves who sell vegetables at the market and the men with white beards who spit sunflower seeds on the ground. As you pay for the internet and your phone service and your bills, when you throw out your garbage and run through your daily errands.
As you live near them and with them and among them- they’re watching.
And it seems that all across the country of Tajikistan; they’re watching closely. They aren’t ashamed of staring intently. In fact, they don’t even notice it. You feel uncomfortable and awkward; sometimes you even feel afraid. But it’s accepted here, it’s just something they all do; openly stare and watch as you walk from place to place, turn their heads and look you up and down. Look into your eyes and study you. Notice your differences and pick up on your accent.
And it doesn’t really matter that it feels strange and awkward and uncomfortable.
What really matters is what they see.
Because wherever we go and whatever we do, people are watching. And candles aren’t put under baskets nor cities hidden that are set on hills. Our words and our deeds and our works- they either shine and bring much-needed light…or hide their warmth and cover their light.
And the tone I use when I speak, the words that fly out of my mouth when I get upset, the expression on my face when my patience runs thin… those things speak. My life speaks. And I waste my time teaching and preaching if my life doesn’t mirror those words. When others see me and watch me and study me; they should see Him. They should hear Christ in my words and see Jesus in my actions.
Because candles give light. They light up corners and rooms and cities. They stand in different quarters of the world and do their job. In some places, the darkness is so strong and threatening and the candles so few and bleak that they’re barely visible; but they stand there nonetheless, shining their light. In other places, they light each other and start fires that spread so rapidly that entire communities shine. Yet in other places, they’re just put under baskets, hidden in the darkness and useless to their surroundings.
And those women with bright head scarves at the market and the men with white beards in the street, perhaps they’re cold and they’re stiff and they’re icy inside; waiting for the light of a candle to warm them.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.