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Author: Carol Hasselbacher
All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. – St. Francis of Assisi
In winter, darkness becomes so deep and pervasive. The animals are cold and hungry in the mountains. In the mornings I find that the aspen are chewed through the bark to the wood. Our world also seems so dreary, with suffering everywhere, environmental degradation, and hate and intolerance in our own democracy.
I am stunned with joy when I see the world illuminated by a full moon on a clear, cold night.
Dr. Mary Pipher, author of “A Life in Light: Meditations on Impermanence”, writes that even in the world’s darkness, and even in our own tragedies, we can find light. She writes of looking for things that bring joy into these dark times, such as walks outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and playing with children. Finding light in observation of beautiful things and in interaction with others is, of course, necessary for our well-being. If we take time to observe, there is always light to be found in everyday experiences, no matter how dark our days are, and we need these moments of joy.
There is more, though. Dr. Pipher writes in her book of moving toward a “luminous life.” In her explanation of luminous life, she relates what Buddhists call the three poisons that inhibit serenity – anger, ignorance, and attachment. Why attachment is described as a poison may be difficult to understand. But as Pipher explains, “Everything is process and in process. We can hold onto nothing.” We can’t hold onto moonlight illuminating the night, or the joy we feel when our children are small and need us so absolutely. For this reason, attachment solely to external things – nature, family, health, or anything, really, can easily leave us feeling bereft at some point. If we can accept that none of these things are permanent, we can learn to rely on our own light. Amanda Gorman said it so well: “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”
We have vast stores of light within ourselves. Being our light, living the light that we summon within ourselves – our faith, our memories, our love for each other, our care for those who are suffering, our hope for the world – these things are not impermanent.
We need each other. We need the light that we share. Together, we can light the world.
Light. See it. Be it.
Lord, thank you for our community of light. Help us to remember that the light from all of our single candles, shining together, can push back the darkness. Help us to see beyond darkness and find ways to work for peace and justice in your world. Amen.