Light Amid Darkness

How it feels sometimes…

I realize just now with dismay that not only did I not post last night, but neither did Robert Hubbell. I hope that readers of the world managed to start their days without benefit of either of our insights and wisdom! I rely on Hubbell to get me through the dishes each morning and start my day with a compassionate and wise view of the previous day’s news.

I tried to post last night and I just couldn’t do it. My own small gratitude practice couldn’t seem to bring enough light into the darkness. I felt petty feeling good about anything. The two mass shootings in a row in California cast such a pall over the days of so many Americans, between the unfathomable grief of those communities, and the trauma that revisits every survivor and victim’s family of the incalculable stream of mass shootings that has unspooled with burgeoning obdurance since Columbine.

But this morning I rallied and brought myself to this day with presence, gratitude, and loving kindness, with patience and even some joy. For what good does it do the world for me to dwell in sorrow and despair? We can each only do what we can do, and to greet each day with gratitude and the intention to make it meaningful through good works and right thinking has got to be enough. There is far more in this world that I cannot control than I can. The only thing I can control is the attitude and the action I bring to each day, each moment. I can be of more benefit in this fleeting life to myself and others with resilience and kindness than with grief and anger. I can bring light to my own small sphere of influence, and try to help others do the same, and our efforts will ripple out to reach even more people.

This is the principle underlying the Four Immeasurables: loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. When we fill our awareness with these, there is less room for their opposites: hatred, cruelty and ill-will, jealousy and envy, and attachment and aversion. This is my practice. May the fruits of my practice ripple out and be of benefit to all beings.

I’m grateful for the light amid darkness however it manifests…

So many components of mindfulness practice help me to hold both the joys of living and the immense sadness of being human in my heart at the same time. Among these are self-compassion, and choosing where I place my attention, so that I do not deplete my energy over things that are beyond my control. Another component is awareness of how we are all interconnected. With this awareness we can understand that working together we can create positive change. The majority of Americans favor banning assault weapons, and reasonable gun control. The minority holds the country hostage and we are the worse for it. I’m grateful for the citizens working their hearts out to bring attention to ways we can hold our governments accountable. One of these is Jessica Craven, an amazing activist who publishes a newsletter five days a week with easy actions you can do in five minutes to make your voice heard–she even includes scripts. A Sunday bonus edition bundles the week’s good news into an uplifting quick read. She is truly a light amid darkness.

3 thoughts on “Light Amid Darkness

  1. Yes, we feel similar despair here in Upstate New York. It lifted today as we were the recipients of our good neighbor’s shoveling out our steps after a heavy snow. I had asked a few days ago on our neighborhood Facebook page for a local teen to do this regularly for pay, with no response. The is afternoon, I saw someone shoveling outside and it was our neighbor whom we do not know very well, but he had just seen our request and he sprang into action. My husband, who normally takes care of this, is having several health problems and can’t shovel. I have a chronic back problem and can’t shovel either. My gratitude goes out to this kind gentleman who helped us out. I don’t know what our long term solution will be but to have neighborly assistance today began to restore my sense of faith that there is light in the darkness.

  2. Yup. We have to carry both joy and sadness in our hearts, but it isn’t useful to dwell on the sadness in the distance when the joy is so close.

  3. So are you, Rita, a light amid darkness. I’m grateful you rallied from your understandable despair to write such a beautiful and uplifting post, which I needed and will reread in dark times, for they are here and will forever come, sadly.

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