Let the Sunshine In!

By Shlomo Maital


   “Somewhere, inside something there is a rush of Greatness, who knows what stands in front of our lives, Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, The sunshine In, Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in…”

   Those are the words of a song from the musical Hair. According to Suzanne Daley, writing in today’s The New York Times, a small Norwegian factory town, Rjukan, has taken those words seriously.   Rjukan is nestled in the Norwegian mountains and once was the site of the world’s first modern fertilizer factory, in 1906.   Because of its northerly location, and because of the mountains, for six months of the year Rjukan residents do not see the sun – at all. [The sun rises and sets quickly, and never gets high enough to rise over the surrounding mountains]. But they’ve found a solution, that made this little town famous all over the world.

   Three huge solar-power and wind-powered mirrors move in concert with the sun, and focus a beam of sunlight on the town square. Thousands of people come to the square, wearing sunglasses and carrying beach chairs. Suddenly the town became more social.  After church on Sunday, people flock to the square, enjoy the sunshine and converse and chat.

   “It’s been a great contribution to life here,” said Annette Oien.

   What can we all learn from Rjukan? I am blessed to live in a country with sunshine nearly every day, often strong sunshine. One philosopher even claimed that three great religions were born in the Mideast because of that strong sun, whose powerful stark shadows of dark and light remind us of the sharp contrast between good and bad, right and wrong.

   But even here, in bright sunlight, there is much darkness. People who are ill, lonely, depressed, who live in poverty.

     Can we learn from the people of Rjukan, and MAKE sunlight, in our own lives and in the lives of others – where there is only darkness? It’s not that hard. A smile, a kind word, some encouragement, a pat on the shoulder…..   It’s worth a try.