In Pursuit of the Light

Practical Solutions

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post, Light in the Darkness, in which I reflected on some of the unrest that has been unleashed on the globe over the last couple of years.  After I published it, I started to notice the theme of light overcoming darkness emerging in other places. 

On the Tuesday I published the post, the daily readings for Catholic masses around the world included St. Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians.  In this reading he tells them: “For all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness.  Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.” (1 Thes 5-6)

Later on, I was standing in a room talking to a coworker about some IT issues when I looked over his shoulder.  On a shelf was a sign that read: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light” (Is 9:2).

There were other examples of this and while I am tempted to think that it might be coincidence, I know that these are often breadcrumbs that help me take another step forward.

So to reiterate the message from my last post, yes, I choose to seek light.

But what does that actually mean in practical terms?  It is one thing to make a declaration, quite another to implement it. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working on a few practices to find and foster light in my life.  I thought I would share them in the hopes that they might help you find more light in your life.

Shut Out the Noise

Last week, I reshared a blog post I wrote earlier in the year, The Sound of Silence.  I have come to realize the importance of having quiet in my life.  This means purposely finding quiet each day to pray, reflect, and to calm my mind.  When I am successful in carving out this time, the benefits are clear.  I feel more at peace, my capacity for patience expands, and I am more creative.  I believe this is because the time spent in silence keeps me rooted in relationship with the Father, allowing me to better receive the graces He makes available. 

But what about the rest of the time?  If I go through the rest of the day without a plan and without purpose, the noise will blare loudly, causing confusion and chaos. 

I have discussed this before, but when I am undisciplined in restricting the amount of news media I consume, it has a negative impact on my outlook.  Media companies get paid for clicks, and fear sells.  Often I have found myself three or four articles or videos deep on a topic and my sense of peace is stolen. 

Knowing this, in the last couple of weeks, I have barely read the news.  I do not believe ignorance is the answer, but I have constrained my consumption to a limited amount of time each morning, and then I do not come back.  While curiosity pops up, the more I resist the urge to consume bad news, the more I am finding myself feeling lighter and less anxious. 

It is important to find time for quiet and guard your heart and mind against all that is coming against them.  This has always been true, but it feels especially so in this moment. 

Remember the Source

In a recent car ride with my older son and daughter, we were talking about the difference between doing the right thing vs. going along with something because everyone else is doing it.  In our conversation, we equated doing the right thing with letting our lights shine.

When I asked them where the light comes from, they both said “God”.  As a follow up I asked: If that’s the case, does it make sense to keep it hidden?  To this, the answer was no. 

My older kids are 8 and 6.  To them, letting your light shine might mean being kind to a child being excluded at school or making an effort to smile at a new classmate.  I encourage them to let it shine in their activities, like playing soccer or doing the monkey bars.  I see them come alive in these activities and it brings joy and delight to me as a witness. 

As an adult, it seems more complicated.  The problems we face are more complex and the consequences of getting it wrong feel greater.  But does this give me the excuse to hide the light that was given to me to share?  No.  If anything, the moment demands more.  In dark times, light is more necessary than at any other time.  It feels scarce right now, but that light was put in you and me to meet this moment.  Not to shrink away and hide. 

Knowing the source, we must foster and encourage our light.  Each day presents many opportunities to bring light into the darkness.  It can be intimidating, but sharing your light with others can help them find the light within themselves.  In the poem, ‘Our Deepest Fear’, Marianne Williamson writes: “As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

Starting each day by remembering that I was given a light and given it for a reason helps me to engage in the day.  To be present to those around me and to look for opportunities to bring light forward into the dark places. 

I recently witnessed a beautiful example of this when I was in a conversation with some friends.  One man was sharing a challenging situation he was having with his kids.  Another person shared a similar experience and met the man in the moment.  I can only imagine the anxiety and fear that the father was experiencing, but when the other person stepped into the conversation, the relief of not being alone was visible.  The darkness wasn’t quite as dark. 

This interaction was not just about sharing a story to comfort someone who was suffering.  It was about bringing God’s love and light into a dark situation.  It was a great example to me of taking an opportunity to bring a little light, given by God, and sharing it with others.

It helped me remember: When the opportunity to bring forth light comes about, remember the source.

Bearers of Light

You may not accept the assertion that you are a carrier of light, but I would encourage you to look within and find it.  There are practical things we can all do daily to seek and find the light within ourselves.  Once we have found it, we need to foster it and create space for it to grow. 

Our light requires us to work to share it.  We cannot cover it or pretend it is not there.  It is too important to ignore, especially as fear and division remain rampant. 

Amidst the chaos, find space for the light to grow.  Remember where it comes from.  And never be afraid to let it shine in the darkness.    

-Sean

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