Mary Jane Robinson
If you’ve ever been to a program at Good Shepherd School, you are familiar with the song “This Little Light of Mine.”
It goes like this:
“This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine,
let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel,
I’m gonna let it shine!”
There are probably more verses, but these are the lines that I hum for days after seeing this precious program. And know that that No! is emphatic, blasted from the mouths of dozens of toddlers and preschoolers with great feeling.
My granddaughter Mary Jane Robinson belts out this song with gusto, holding her tiny finger in the air to signify her light and screaming the word No! with such emotion that might make you think someone has threatened to extinguish her little light forever.
She shouts the word surely, as in, absolutely no way will this light be hidden under any bushel.
We each have our own little light. Every single one of us.
But somehow along the way, we learn that holding our light up proudly and letting it shine is not socially acceptable. We learn to defer, to downplay that light.
We scoff when someone marvels at our painting, or our sculpture or our drawing. Or compliments our outfit or flower arrangement or decorating.
Mary Jane is not quite 3 years old yet, and her light is shining strong. She stands tall, and charges into a room, whether she knows anyone or not. Ballet is something she wants to do, and on the first day of class, she grabbed Kate Fuller’s hand at the Hive and said she was ready to go. She’d never seen Kate, or the teacher, or the 14 other little girls in her class. But she charged right up the stairs to the studio.
“Don’t worry,” I said, fluttering my fingers in a cheery goodbye. “I’ll be right here waiting.”
And no, she did not look back.
I learned this song when I was a child.
And I wish I’d learned taken the bushel line more to heart. Lots of things hide our lights. Chastisements when we gaze in the mirror at ourselves too long. Comments about our weight or our size or our grades or our coordination or our ability to sing on key.
There is plenty of darkness along the way, and no light should be hidden. Or dimmed. Or diminished in any way.
Mary Jane is too young to truly understand how important this little song is. And how important it is she protect her light with all she’s got.
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Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series “If Bugs Are Banished.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is ferrisrobinson.com and you can download a free pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.