Candles of Light in the Darkness
The great paradox of the human condition – the abundance of life, joy, love, meaning; the reality of greed, oppression, illness, suffering. The human heart is asked to hold so much. People from all countries and find ways to honor the light of the human spirit even in times of darkness. Especially at this time of Solstice, in the northern hemisphere of turning from the dark toward the light.
I offer this poem every year at this time, as a beacon of re-sourcing ourselves.
Candles for Solstice
May you celebrate and share with others…
Candles of light in the darkness,
Candles of grace in the suffering,
Candles of joy despite all sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tumultuous days,
Candles of forgiveness for all the difficulties,
Candles of love to embrace all that is Life,
Candles that will burn all the year long.
– Linda Graham based on Howard Thurman
And this year offering five suggestions as ways you may find your own way to be a light of hope to others.
1) Volunteer for a community service organization. And many of you already do. Just one example: My good friend Mark Stefanksi, a high school biology teacher, has volunteered at the Insight Garden Program at San Quentin prison for 11 years. In his words: “Transformation takes place in folks when we adopt a humane, mindfully constructive, nature-based approach to restorative justice. And whenever I return home from my time with the men in prison, my wife says I’m the husband she wants me to be.”
2) Contribute to a community service organization. One example I’ve supported from the beginning: Pencils of Promise builds schools in underdeveloped regions of Asia, Latin America, and Africa where one pencil, one teacher can make a huge difference in empowering young girls, reducing poverty, preventing disease. 518 schools to date; 96,570 students; 100% local leadership; 100% direct support.
3) Connect and nourish others.
Out of a great need
We are all holding hands
Not loving is a letting go
Listen, the terrain around here
Is far too dangerous for that.
Human beings thrive in connection. And in dark times, we naturally seek refuge in connections with others, whether in families, neighborhoods, or communities. In the midst of very, very busy lives as the old year transitions into the new, whether that new year feels promising or perilous, take time to be with your chosen people, fully present, fully sharing the joys and sorrows of our common humanity.
4) Nourish yourself. Replenish the well, resource yourself – time with friends, walks in nature, nourishing food, a long winter’s nap. Self-care is not self-indulgent; it’s essential to have the courage and the creativity you need to draw upon, whatever challenges and opportunities you create for yourself in a new season.
5) Be grateful for it all. Living a human life is not always easy. The many blessings of being alive and engaged in the world, yes. The AFGO’s – another frickin’ growth opportunity – yes, too. Finding “the gifts in the mistakes,” being grateful for the lessons, even in the losses, embracing all that is Life is also a way of lighting a candle in the darkness.
Blessings of light and hope to you and yours.