By Joseph J. Mazzella • November 21, 2022

When I was a teenager our church sent a group of us teens on a religious retreat. There were lots of teens from other areas there as well. Over several days we had discussion groups, hikes, outings, lessons from the Bible and other writings, and a bunch of other activities all designed to help us learn and grow spiritually. The funny thing is that as well intentioned as all of these things were, over the years all of them have faded from my memory. Of my time at that retreat only one memory remains clear in my mind.

It happened during a free time period in the afternoon. Most of the other teenagers had formed groups and ran off together to do stuff. I chose, however, to stay in my room. I was missing my home and feeling a little sad and lonely. Finally, I walked down to the empty rec room and saw a record player with a stack of records nearby. I picked up the first one and put it on the turntable. Suddenly, Neil Diamond’s voice filled the air singing his song “Turn on your Heartlight.” This was a song I later learned was inspired by the movie “ET.” I sat down and listened carefully. When the lyrics sang, “Turn on your heartlight, Let it shine wherever you go, Let it make a happy glow, For all the world to see,” something happened in my own heart. I felt a warmth there, a light there, and a love there. It was as if God Himself was speaking to me through this song. I memorized the lyrics and often sang them to myself over the years whenever I was feeling sad or lonely. And they never failed to uplift my spirits, warm my heart, and bring me closer to God.

Maybe the best lessons in life are the simplest ones. Turn on your heart light then. Let it shine wherever you go. Let it help you to share your light, love, kindness, and goodness with everyone you meet. Let its glow bring you closer to God today, tomorrow, and for all eternity.


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