Keep the light burning

I had a friend once who’s life took a series of ugly turns. He ended up being just bad news, with no job, no family and no faith, having turned his back on everything. Seeing nothing but darkness, I walked away.  Years later I heard that he recovered and was a brilliant example of grace and restoration — and I missed it.


The LA Times last week reported a most interesting story. In 1935, a neon light was installed to backlight a forest scene in Clifton’s Cafeteria in old Los Angeles. Along with a bank of other lights, it created an escape from the urban life for diners.
A few years later, in 1949, the cafeteria was renovated with a different theme and a partion covered the forest scene.
Fast forward to this year. A bulding inspection revealed a soft glow coming through beams, a faint light. They tore apart a section of the wall, and there it was. That neon light was still glowing.

It seems that during the last rennovation, someone forgot to turn off the electricity and the light has been burning ever since. That light has now been burning for 77 years.

Normally, neon lights max out at 40 years before the glass detiorates. Why did this last so long? Hidden from view, no one really cared. But when the old boards were finally torn away, it’s glow was still bright.
I’m thinking about my own life. When I was 20, I was newly married and full of excitement to serve God. Maybe missions. Maybe the pastorate. Maybe full time work at a school. But two kids later and life got in the way. I put up walls over that light and passion. Then there was disobedience, sin and shame. In many ways that zeal was sealed up and forgotten. But the light glowed through the crack, a constant reminder of the truth I have known.

Photo courtesy LA Times

My friend Tim first brought this article to my attention, and he saw it as an application to the culture at large. He observed that the light was intentionally covered over in the name of progress and modernization. That’s true. Society always has a better way, a way without God. But Tim was also a man who knew my light when others thought it had departed — and never gave up on me. 


I have grown children whose lights seem boarded over with youth, career and apathy. But it’s still there for them. And for others in my life. I just can’t give up on them, because a few people never gave up on me. 


The light keeps on burning



About David Rupert

Newsletter Editor for the High Calling Find me over at http://www.RedLetterBelievers.com
This entry was posted in Clifton Cafeteria, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Keep the light burning

  1. What an amazing thing–and example of what might be under all those layers we've built we've up that cover up. Busheled light. I read how the owner estimates the cost of that hidden light at $17,000. What a waste of energy.

  2. What an amazing thing–and example of what might be under all those layers we've built we've up that cover up. Busheled light. I read how the owner estimates the cost of that hidden light at $17,000. What a waste of energy.

  3. Oh, David, so much truth here! Even when we close our eyes tightly, the light still shines. Hammer boards over it–the light still shines. Draw the curtains–the light still shines. It's eternal, that Light, and undimmable. 

  4. Oh, David, so much truth here! Even when we close our eyes tightly, the light still shines. Hammer boards over it–the light still shines. Draw the curtains–the light still shines. It's eternal, that Light, and undimmable. 

  5. Obviously, Disqus likes you… 😉

  6. Obviously, Disqus likes you… 😉

  7. Marie says:

    We'll written!  Even a light covered with a basket can be seen through the slats.  Though we may try to hide it under a basket – – God has other plans.

  8. Marie says:

    We'll written!  Even a light covered with a basket can be seen through the slats.  Though we may try to hide it under a basket – – God has other plans.

  9. What an interesting story and great application. I've got a couple folks who I am sure prayed me right into God's everlasting arms. And I'm so thankful to them. To Him.Blessings.

  10. What an interesting story and great application. I've got a couple folks who I am sure prayed me right into God's everlasting arms. And I'm so thankful to them. To Him.Blessings.

  11. mike says:

    ..its interesting,my story is very similar to yours,I appreciate your honesty and openness…but my analysis and conclusions of this L-O-N-G awkward journey are dis-similar from yours …this time around i've found it helpful to become as a child again and begin anew from the starting point of simply acknowledging that i have a Creator and seeking to intimately know and commune with Him..i've deprogrammed myself from the toxic dogma of my previous indoctrination of all things God and am become an avid questioner/examiner of traditionally held concepts,in essence becoming a Seeker-Explorer..i'm neither Orthodox,Catholic,Quaker or Emergent,but i regularly attend these services..always looking for clearer deeper insight into the mystery of God and His Christ…

  12. mike says:

    ..its interesting,my story is very similar to yours,I appreciate your honesty and openness…but my analysis and conclusions of this L-O-N-G awkward journey are dis-similar from yours …this time around i've found it helpful to become as a child again and begin anew from the starting point of simply acknowledging that i have a Creator and seeking to intimately know and commune with Him..i've deprogrammed myself from the toxic dogma of my previous indoctrination of all things God and am become an avid questioner/examiner of traditionally held concepts,in essence becoming a Seeker-Explorer..i'm neither Orthodox,Catholic,Quaker or Emergent,but i regularly attend these services..always looking for clearer deeper insight into the mystery of God and His Christ…

  13. David Rupert says:

    Try as we can…it cannot be snuffed

  14. David Rupert says:

    Try as we can…it cannot be snuffed

  15. Funny–we're all brought up learning to sing "I'm gonna let it shine." Just try to stop it!

  16. Funny–we're all brought up learning to sing "I'm gonna let it shine." Just try to stop it!

  17. Amy Young says:

    Just think of the human cost in lives hidden behind walls. It's kind of staggering, isn't it?!

  18. Amy Young says:

    Just think of the human cost in lives hidden behind walls. It's kind of staggering, isn't it?!

  19. mike says:

    ..I would tend to agree with you Sheila..but look at the amount of worry and anxiety we expend when we feel someone close to us is'nt following the path exactly the way that we think they should,then we often tend to compulsively get involved and administer "guidance" and "advice"…I think we do this because,in essence, we doubt that God is capable of guiding people solely by the Holy Spirit without our 'help' (although He does use us,but usually we are totally unaware of it when He does)

  20. mike says:

    ..I would tend to agree with you Sheila..but look at the amount of worry and anxiety we expend when we feel someone close to us is'nt following the path exactly the way that we think they should,then we often tend to compulsively get involved and administer "guidance" and "advice"…I think we do this because,in essence, we doubt that God is capable of guiding people solely by the Holy Spirit without our 'help' (although He does use us,but usually we are totally unaware of it when He does)

  21. pastordt says:

    What a fabulous story, David. And you told it so well! We used to eat at Clifton's after church on Sunday when I was a wee girl. (well, I never was a wee girl – but I WAS younger!) and it was a grand place. We're so glad they're refurbishing it. 

  22. pastordt says:

    What a fabulous story, David. And you told it so well! We used to eat at Clifton's after church on Sunday when I was a wee girl. (well, I never was a wee girl – but I WAS younger!) and it was a grand place. We're so glad they're refurbishing it. 

  23. David Rupert says:

    Sandra. I think Disqus likes you now. And so I!

  24. David Rupert says:

    Sandra. I think Disqus likes you now. And so I!

  25. David Rupert says:

    Mike… I personally do fret when people have hidden their light. I've done it with friends, kids, and coworkers. It seems like the more I do, the farther i push them away. I like your approach, allowing the spirit to do His work

  26. David Rupert says:

    Mike… I personally do fret when people have hidden their light. I've done it with friends, kids, and coworkers. It seems like the more I do, the farther i push them away. I like your approach, allowing the spirit to do His work

  27. Mike, that's an interesting response. I'm wondering if that compulsion to "do" something (beyond prayer) is part of the "I must fix it" approach that seems more common to men? I need to reflect on that. 

  28. Mike, that's an interesting response. I'm wondering if that compulsion to "do" something (beyond prayer) is part of the "I must fix it" approach that seems more common to men? I need to reflect on that. 

  29. David Rupert says:

    I love those old diners. Too bad so many have gone away. Take a look at the photos about the facelift.SHould bring back some memories!

  30. David Rupert says:

    I love those old diners. Too bad so many have gone away. Take a look at the photos about the facelift.SHould bring back some memories!

  31. pastordt says:

    Ah, but Clifton's was SO not a diner. It was fancy schmancy, even if it was a cafeteria with a bit of a weird decorating theme. (At least as I think of a diner – which to me was a single room, sort of like a train car with lots of booths, jukeboxes and a long counter with swivel chairs). This place had multiple rooms, lots of twists and turns to find your way around. It was fun, whimsical and the food was actually quite good, as I recall. I'll look it up. We had seen an earlier story about the taking down of some crappy siding on the exterior of that grand old stone building, but missed the one about the mysterious light. So glad you found it.

  32. pastordt says:

    Ah, but Clifton's was SO not a diner. It was fancy schmancy, even if it was a cafeteria with a bit of a weird decorating theme. (At least as I think of a diner – which to me was a single room, sort of like a train car with lots of booths, jukeboxes and a long counter with swivel chairs). This place had multiple rooms, lots of twists and turns to find your way around. It was fun, whimsical and the food was actually quite good, as I recall. I'll look it up. We had seen an earlier story about the taking down of some crappy siding on the exterior of that grand old stone building, but missed the one about the mysterious light. So glad you found it.

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