There’s been a lot of worry and pessimism on Facebook and other social media in the last year or so. People worry about the state of the world, climate change, race relations, and much more. It’s probably tempting to take a break from information and emotion overload.
When I was a young child and thought I heard strange noises from under the bed, my solution was to pull the covers over my head. It obviously worked because the noises went away, and I would awaken the next morning ready to face a new day. One of the windows in my room faced east. In the wintertime there would be frost on the inside of the window because old farmhouses get cold. I still remember, though, the joy of seeing the sunlight come through the frosted window.
I believe that something similar is happening in the world now. Yes, there are would-be and actual autocratic dictators consolidating power and spreading mischief. Yes, marginalized people are still treated with contempt and injustice. And yes, storms grow more powerful and shorelines erode as glaciers melt and we humans stubbornly refuse to face reality.
There are also glimmers of light.
One of them is #MeToo. Women (and occasionally men as well) are coming forth to speak truth to power about sexual misconduct and abuse.
Another was the nation-wide March for Our Lives organized and led by the survivors of the Parkland School shootings in Florida. I could not help but admire what these high school students and their supporters accomplished in just a few weeks. Are marches enough? Of course not. They do, however, speak to the power of community and common cause.
Then there’s possibly the most uncomfortable conversation of all: race and the story of white supremacy in America. No one wants to be told they are complicit in the humiliation and injustices to other human beings. “I am not racist,” we say. “We are not responsible for what our ancestors did,” we might use as a defense.
Whether those statements are true or not isn’t the point. We do have a responsibility to find ways to create or build the Beloved Community. We have an obligation to sit quietly and listen to those who have been marginalized or worse. However, we cannot stop there.
One of my favorite phrases from the Quaker tradition is “The Light Within.” It’s a powerful metaphor for God within that tradition. We don’t have to believe in a traditional understanding of God to appreciate that powerful image of a strong, steady light within each of us.
What can that light of honesty, awareness, compassion, and much more do for us as it shines within? That sunlight at dawn in a Maine winter would slowly but surely melt away the frost on my windows. I could see out into a new day. The night was gone.
Our own light can do the same. We could wait for someone else to burn away the delusions and fears we all carry with us. Or we can summon that Light Within as an expression of our true and awakened self. Can we call upon our awakened, compassionate, caring self to show us the way to a new day?
Happy Passover and Happy Easter as well this coming week. May our lights shine.