I have had a hard time recently with the world. There is so much injustice and division surrounding us that it can feel overwhelming. I get to a point where I either want to stop and give up, curling in a corner with a blanket over my head, or to shine a spotlight on every issue with a megaphone pressed up to my mouth as I yell angrily, “Can’t you see what we are doing?” And neither of these feel very productive responses. So when I have conversations with God about this, I can get frustrated by the seeming lack of response God has for the world. A few well aimed lightening bolts, or some angelic interventions on a large scale would not go amiss at times! And some clear direction on what I can do to bring about a better world would be nice too.
After the last big snowfall I dug a spiral in the snow, and decided I was going to walk it each day, praying for peace, for life, for hope. Just to do something to bring a better world. And each day, no matter how cold it has been, I have walked the path, sometimes with a candle, sometimes in the darkness of night, sometimes at sunrise, sometimes with the cool winter sun low on the horizon, walking the path of peace and praying.
Last week I spent a day on retreat, and at the beginning of the day we were offered a Langston Hughes poem as part of the opening gathering:
In the dark,
Brighter than many ever see.
Through the soul’s own mastery.
And now the world receives
From her dower:
The message of the strength
Of inner power.
I was really struck with this…. That in the dark this mysterious “she” found her inner power to share with the world. But it had to come from the dark. It could not be discovered any other way. And it had to be drawn out from her depths, her center, her true, inner being. (Later I found that this poem was written in honor of Helen Keller, but I spent the day not knowing this.)
As I sat with the words of the poem I thought about the darkness of the world, and the goings on. And I thought about the light each of us has within us. I heard a message from God that said, “Your job is to shine your candle light. Not a spotlight, but your candle’s light. That’s all you need to worry about. And as you shine it, others will feel the strength to shine theirs too. Soon the gentle light will glow stronger and stronger. But the gentle light, welcoming and inviting, is your light to shine.”
So while it seems like a small thing, it feels absolutely right. The world has enough angry, sharp spotlights vying for attention, throwing everything not in the center into deeper shadows. But it doesn’t have enough gentle lights glowing from within with warmth and love and welcome and gentleness. And it feels appropriate in the Advent season, when each week we add a new light to the wreath, that candlelight was the image I received.
There is a song I learned a decade or more ago with these words:
No deep darkness in the world,
Can overcome the light,
If but a single candle flame
Is burn, burning bright.”
Will you join me in shining your gentle, welcoming, loving light in the world, overcoming the darkness by allowing your true loving nature to shine?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.