John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This week’s news of the Boston Marathon bombings was a kick in the gut, a story that hits close to home. For me, it was especially close because last year, my brother-in-law ran the Boston marathon and my sister and their family were standing in the same place where this week’s explosions occurred.
I heard the news on my car radio and I felt the energy just seep out of my body, almost as though I was paralyzed. I felt so incompetant to help, to change anything about it. It’s one of the many times I’ve wished I could be a super-spy like Jason Bourne or a detective like Sherlock so I could save the day BEFORE someone gets hurt.
Days like this sometimes make me feel like the dark side of the force is winning. After all, yesterday’s event is just one of many tragic situations we’ve witnessed lately. When I see them happening, I feel a nagging fear at the edges of my mind and I worry for a moment about my children’s future in a world containing people who would set a bomb with the intent to murder innocent people, including children. It is the kind of darkness that steals our energy, our faith in our fellowman, our hope for a better future, if we choose to let it.
Part of me wishes I could gather my small brood and turn inward, away from all the ugliness. Part of me wishes I could protect them from the pain of loss and death. But my own intimate acquaintance with heart wrenching loss have taught me this is not possible. It is only possible to know none of us are immune to loss and to remember to hope because joy does come in the morning.
I remember how, in the midst of my own early experiences with grief, I felt angry that the people around me went on when my world was imploding. How could they continue to see joy when I was hurting so much? How could they go on like nothing had happened when such a huge part of my life was over? How could they be out enjoying the beauty of the sunshine when for me the light of day only seemed to illumine what I had lost? A dark cloud hid the sun’s warmth and life giving light from me.
But I kept getting out of bed each day. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. As the pain subsided a little, I vowed not to live in fear or grief forever but to find the moments of joy along with the pain of each day.
One day when I woke, I opened my eyes and realized there was a smile on my lips as I faced the prospect of a new day. And I realized that those around me needed to go on while I felt so lost, not only for their own survival but to ensure mine as well. Somebody had to keep the world turning so it would be there when I was ready to rejoin it.
So while I went to bed Monday night feeling undone by the day’s events, grief wrapping around my throat, the morning was a different story.
Tuesday morning, I woke with the warm light of the sun on my face and I found hope filling my thoughts. I know those who were hurt or lost loved ones might not be feeling that hope yet. But this time, I am one of those who will keep watch until they have regained their strength.
I don’t need to have Bourne’s secret agent skills to stand against the darkness. I don’t need to be able to hunt down the evil doers with the focused intensity of Holmes. We certainly need people who fight that way but my role is a little different.
Today I grieve with those affected by the bombings and with those who suffer pain around the world at the hands of those who channel darkness. Feeling that loss with them reminds me I am not an island. I am connected to my fellowman.
But I will not just grieve. I will be part of the light brigade.
Today, I will do my part to face down the darkness within my own circle of influence. I will look for those who are feeling hopeless, discouraged, hungry, desperate, grief stricken and I will offer what I have – even if it is small – to help.
I will teach my children kindness.
I will encourage them to choose to live honorably, with integrity.
I will teach them to love all people and to treat them with respect even if they do not believe the same things about life, God or politics.
I will show them how to stand up for those who need a champion and a hand up.
We cannot underestimate the value of taking the time to look outside our own needs. It could change the entire course of another person’s life – for the better. It might even make the difference between a life spent in the shadows or one bathed in Light.
I will grieve.
But I will also pray. I will also hope.
I will also believe that each person has the potential to turn to that Light and I will encourage every person in my path to do so.
Today, I will blaze a light in the darkness by being one myself.