By now, I hope, the lights are back on across the country, and that the last vestages of Hurricane Sandy are begining to receed. Clear on the other side of the country, I am grateful that our primary natural disaster comes with no warning. I’m prepared or I’m not, but I don’t have to deal with the anticipation.
I was moved today by the story of Mike, from Toms River, NJ. If you haven’t heard, Mike was swept out to sea by a wave, and spent four hours swimming back to shore. With no idea where he was when he finally made land, he entered an abandoned home, wrapped himself in blankets, and in the dark, he wrote a message to the homeowner and his own father. Sure of his death, Mike just wanted both to know that he tried to do the right thing: he tried to contact his dad, and he took nothing but essentials for warmth from the home.
Eventually Mike was rescued, reunited with his father, and from the story it seems that everyone tangentially involved was deeply touched by the events that unfolded around them. I, too, was moved by the story, even though I remain worried about friends in New York and New Jersey that are still waiting.
It all got me to thinking about darkness….
For Mike, for my friends, the darkness was real. I can just imagine his world, devoid of light, as he felt his way around a strange home in search of meeting a few primitive needs –warmth, water, perhaps a bit of food, and his father. But darkness is often metaphorical as well. When we keep a secret, we leave someone “in the dark.” There were the Dark Ages and there is the Dark Side. Some have a heart of darkness.
In Judeo-Christian Creation what is the first thing to be dispelled? Darkness. God creates light on day one. And yet we don’t always have light…we are left with a world that balances light and darkness, each in turn.
In truth, we all have moments of personal darkness, times of fear or pain or anger. But we also all have the gift of light; the means to illuminate the life of those around us; a way to dispel their darkness.
Perhaps this is a one-month anniversary piece for World Mental Health Day (Oct 10), or a reflection of a grant recently awarded to UCLA to study depression following breast cancer treatment; perhaps it is a result of the continued dis-ease I am feeling about the election.
But the upshot is this…imagine a world in which we each sought to bring our light to one another. Imagine if we were aware enough of the darkness, both big and small, that surrounds the people in our lives. Imagine if reached out and offered our light, be it to a friend, family member, or someone who is hungry at the freeway on ramp.
One candle can light an infinite number of flames. I’m going to start looking for more ways to share light.