The Difference of a Comma

By Sr. Spero

I was checking the title of a book about John Henry Newman, with the same title as his poem which became a popular hymn. The three words are Lead, Kindly, and Light, but there was also a comma, and I didn’t know where the comma should go. If it went after Lead, the title had one meaning, and if after Kindly, an entirely different meaning and attitude toward the Light, which represents God. I frequently go back and forth between these two attitudes myself. If I say “Lead Kindly, Light,” it means I have to remind God to be kindly, and don’t really trust him. If I say, “Lead, Kindly Light,” I’m recognizing him as kindly (trustworthy), and I’ll follow him wherever he leads. Sometimes I put the comma in my life in one place, and sometimes in another.

I looked up Cardinal Newman’s original title, and shouldn’t have been surprised. He put the comma after Lead. He trusted God. Now if I could only figure out what the comma represents to me, so I can learn to trust him more.

Apple blossoms at the Community of Jesus

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