Today after church about a dozen of us gathered in the back of the church basement to assemble small solar lights for Ukrainians who were living without reliable electricity. Dave, from our church, was heading to Moldova in a few weeks. His plan is to send a bunch of needed items, including these solar lights, to the Ukrainians across the border, via a church organization he has worked for there.
These solar lights were brilliantly and simply made. A small board with three LED light strings attached. Behind, a battery stores enough electricity for the nightlight, the smallest of the three strings, to run for 2 weeks if necessary. The battery attaches a regular electric socket, but also to a screen-sized solar panel.
In Ukraine, the power lines have been destroyed in many places. Without electricity, obviously, people can’t see at night. Light is safety. But they also can’t use their i-phones, which in today’s world allow them to communicate, to work, to shop, and to survive. We talked to a man once from Puerto Rico who had lived through Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. He was without reliable power for 18 months. (Today, he has solar panels, which represent security.) His mother died during that time, and his memories left him feeling bitter and abandoned by his own, and our, governments. That was when I came to understand how important electricity is in our world today.
So the solar lights we assembled also had an i-phone cord to the battery. In the hands of a Ukrainian family, this transportable light could move with them, allow them to function at night, and travel with reliable electricity.
While taping, gluing, and drilling, it struck me that with solar energy, light and heat are becoming accessible to everyone. Many people already live off the grid. We camp with our little solar light and no longer need batteries. I’ve heard of places in Africa that simply skipped the power-line era of industrial development and are going straight from having no central electric grid, to having complete energy independence via panels on their roofs for light, heat, and cooking.
It seems entirely possible to me that something wonderful is happening on a spiritual plane that is manifesting here by making the light from the sun immediately accessible to everyone. Fossil fuels, which use the carbon that has been stored in the ground for thousands of years, is an incredibly cumbersome way to utilize the sun’s rays. Why not just use the sun, today? Technology is catching up to this idea. Could this be a result of happenings in the spiritual world, where access to the Lord’s heat and light–the spiritual sun–are not only more accessible to us, but are more adaptable to our particular needs?
My brother-in-law Steve Dyck, President of Guelph Solar, has always felt a connection between solar energy and deeper values of justice and equity. He says “The sun shines for everyone – it is a very democratic power system. I am committed to a fair and just society and installing solar in my community is an expression of this hope.”
Maybe it’s because it’s early March, which in northern Minnesota is a time when the sun starts to really penetrate. Temperatures rise above freezing for the first time in months, and the sun rises earlier and carries real warmth. It’s not unusual to see people standing out on the streets facing the south in the afternoon, faces towards the sun, simply absorbing.
“…the fact that spiritual heat, being love, produces natural heat in human beings to such an extent as to fire and inflame their faces and limbs, can serve as a proof that the fire of the natural sun arose from no other source than the fire of the spiritual sun, which is Divine love.” (Conjugial Love 380)