Yesterday at The Gathering at Blakehurst, we read the first chapter of Joan Chittister’s book Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life.
The first chapter is called “The Light Found in Darkness” and includes a story of people who are fearful and anxious, students of a master teacher.
“Rabbi,” the students beg of their teacher who is dying. “How can we possibly go on when you are gone?”
Their teacher answers …
It is like this. Two people went into the forest together but only one carried a light. When they parted there, the one with the light went on ahead while the other floundered in the darkness.
The students respond, “Yes, that is how it is and that is why we are so frightened to be without you.”
Their teacher gazes at them, long and hard. Exactly. That is why you must each carry your own light within you.
When I was a little girl living in the Philippines, I always wanted to be carried by a woman named Nora. Nora was always smiling and laughing and dancing. And I wanted to be with her. I guess I gravitated to her light and her joy.
We all know, I think, what it feels like to be around someone who carries the light within them.
Perhaps it’s a child.
Perhaps it’s a teacher.
Perhaps it’s that person you sat next to yesterday or with whom you connected while you were out during errands.
I sat down next to someone last week whose peaceful, light-filled presence was palpable. Her presence, her speech, her words were clear and strong, compassionate and true, sending out ripples of peace and strength that touched everyone gathered around the table. I am not one to see auras or “haloes”, but I swear I saw — I felt — hers.
Be salt. Be light.
The thing is … the truth is … each of us really does carry this light within us. It is the truest, the deepest “stuff” of which we are made. And we know for ourselves what feeds this inner light and keeps it burning … and what doesn’t.
So here are a couple of invitations:
• I invite you to do at least one thing today that brings you deep peace, deep joy. (I promise you, dear reader, that today, I will dance to Madonna’s “Ray of Light” and snuggle with David, Grace and Ben.)
• And from that place of deep peace and deep joy, from that place of inner light, I invite you to engage in at least one action that shines light and spreads it to someone else who needs it. (I promise you, dear reader, that today, I will visit someone who is having a rough time and also write a public official to thank her for her courage.)
It is from that place of inner light and strength that renowned psychiatrist, author and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a [human being] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way…every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom.”
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.