Hello, my dear friend. I’m so glad you’re here, and I want to apologize for not writing sooner. All week I’ve searched for words of wisdom. I’ve spent hours faithfully perched in front of my laptop searching for a message that might convey hope and inspire compassion…for something to lift you up. But all week words have escaped me.
A Week Without Wisdom
If you’re a left-leaning, progressively-minded, justice-seeking American like me, you likely found this week’s news cycle particularly abysmal.
- The stock market is in a free fall, leaving many of us wondering if we’re standing on the precipice of the next economic recession.
- Drilling and mining are now permitted in America’s previously-protected National Parks & Monuments. These beautiful treasures belong to “We the People,” and are rich in history and teeming with diverse life. By extracting resources from them, we threaten all that they are and everything they represent.
- We learned that failure to clap and nod along with our president is considered treasonous. I have so much to say about this, but will refrain as it will take us much too far off track and deep into the muck.
- While our veteran’s suffer from unemployment, homelessness, PTSD and skyrocketing incidence of suicide, our active service men and women tenaciously fight a battle with no apparent end. Support services are unable to satisfy the overwhelming need. Yet we learned that American taxpayers will be funding a multi-million dollar military parade that provides no tangible benefit or relief to anyone in need.
- And dear God, the ICE detentions and deportations. Broken families and shattered hearts, hopes and dreams are everywhere I look.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re a deeply feeling person like me, it’s almost too much. Sometimes I have to remind myself to just keep breathing.
Keep Moving Forward
When I feel like this, it’s incredibly difficult to string together a coherent thought, never mind write a cohesive and meaningful essay. As confusion, anger, and sadness dance and swirl around me, I feel short on wisdom and devoid of clarity. But I’ve learned that when I feel this way, I must keep pushing myself forward. I can push gently and move slowly, but it is absolutely vital that I move forward. If I don’t, depression may catch up with me and settle in for a long visit. And that serves no one. Push forward, I must.
Clarity Through Creative Collaboration
Last week, I shared that art is a tool I use to channel my anxious energies. After several valiant but decidedly unsuccessful attempts at writing this week, I knew art was the best way for me to break through the barrier holding me back.
So I gathered my things & sat down to create a mandala. I drew offset concentric circles…but then instead of beginning a mandala, I drew a single lighted candle. That’s it. I hungered for words of hope. More than just words though, I yearned for reassurance. I sought confirmation that the light and love I so strongly believe in are real, that they are powerful, and that they can overcome darkness. So I compiled the wisdom of many of the world’s great thinkers and teachers, and surrounded my little candle with the warm glow of their gentle, encouraging and enlightening words.
- Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire. –Saint Catherine of Sienna
- Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. –Dr. Martin Luther King, JR
- Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light. –Theodore Roethke
- In your light, I learn how to love. –Rumi
- It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. –Confucius
- It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. –Aristotle
- Let’s nurture our spirits until they shine and then let’s strip down to our naked souls and dance through life until we drop little bits of light behind us that glow like fireflies in the night. –Cristen Rodgers
- Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. –John 1:5
- Light must come from inside. You cannot ask the darkness to leave; you must turn on the light. –Sogyal Rinpoche
- My advice to you is to soften into the discomfort. Know that it’s gifting you growth, fuel and grit. Whatever it may be…that you’re claiming as your desire and dream, I wish you the comfort within the discomfort. The stillness within the unease. The softening within the stretch. And mostly I wish you the match that lights and revives your fire to keep you going. Because you can. Keep going. –Victoria Erickson
- Nobody can dim the light that shines from within. –Dr. Maya Angelou
- Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of our light. –Brene Brown
- Shine like the whole universe is yours. –Rumi
- To shine your brightest light is to be who you truly are. –Roy T. Bennett
- Within you is the light of a thousand suns. –Robert Adams
Wisdom for the Ages
The quotes I selected came from luminaries from different eras, different races, nationalities, religions, genders, educations, economic backgrounds, and world views. But several noteworthy truths emerge from and are repeated throughout.
- Our light is real and represents our best, most authentic selves and our highest calling. Our light is who we really are, and in it’s purest form, it is love.
- Darkness has marked human history from the beginning of time. The pain we feel as we face today’s struggles might not be very different from what Aristotle, John, or Confucius experienced. This doesn’t diminish the significance of our current experience, but anchors us and let’s us know that we’re not alone and that we can overcome.
- Darkness – no matter how ominous or powerful – has never been able to extinguish our collective light. Light pierces darkness, always. Darkness cannot snuff out light.
- Through knowing the darkness in and around us, we become more aware, more certain, more empowered to shine our brightest, most dazzling light.
- And through finding and sharing our own light, we help others do the same.
Together, We Light the Darkness
We find ourselves in the midst of much darkness right now my friend, but we must remained focused, and we must move forward. Together. We must recognize and assuredly own the healing, transformative, and regenerative power of both our individual and collective light. We can feel fury and deep love at once. Dismay can inspire us. Disappointment can fortify our resolve. Failure can teach us another, perhaps better, way. When our hearts break open, we can allow more love, more compassion, more light, more resolve in. And then, if we are brave enough, we can release it all back into the world to illuminate the path for others.
With love, Amy
PS Know, always, that there is good news to be found if you will only look for it. Here’s a small sampling of hopeful and inspiring stories that have been in the headlines in recent weeks, challenging the darkness & offering us all some fuel for the fire within. I invite you to share love & grow light by sharing more stories in the comments below.
- For coffee-loving tree-huggers, reason to rejoice.
- Who can resist the 2018 Gerber Baby, Lucas Warren’s infectious smile?
- In recognition of Black History Month a high school in Montpelier, Vermont raises the Black Lives Matter flag.
- And in a show of love and generosity, a Navy SEAL saves the life of a stranger by gifting his liver through living donation.
- And if you’re an animal lover, there is a seemingly endless stream of beautiful stories to make you smile. Just go out and look.