Day 297: Being Light

Be the light Elizabeth Gilbert

Today’s first was based on a talk I presented Tuesday, which in turn was built around a delightful story of Elizabeth Gilbert’s, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I love how things come together and then flow outward and today was an opportunity to put into practice being the light, and offering a silent blessing to others, as I encountered them throughout my day.

This is the written version of what I shared this week, speaking of darkness, and offering light:

I got lost in a church basement once. It was a windowless basement with a maze of hallways and rooms that opened off of other rooms. Night was falling outside and I was the last person in the building. I moved through the large church, making sure doors were locked and lights were turned off.

For some reason, as I trotted downstairs, I left the stairwell light turned on, and turned off lights as I moved deeper and deeper into the basement. I thought that the fixture above the stairs would cast enough light for me to be able to find my way back, and besides, I was familiar with the layout of the warren of rooms.

In the room farthest from the stairs, which opened off of a series of rooms, I gathered up books left scattered across a table top, and using my elbow, turned off the last light. I stepped through the doorway and took four or five steps into a larger room before coming to a stop. Complete darkness surrounded me. I couldn’t see a thing. The silence seemed to weigh upon me as I stood there. I grew up with a strong fear of the dark. In that moment, it didn’t matter that I was deep in the recesses of a church…an icy dread gripped my heart.

I walked forward, straining to see in the blackness, hoping that a glimmer of light would reveal the doorway into the next room and the hallway beyond. Just as my brain was telling me I had walked too far, I ran into a wall. That startled me. I turned to the right and took two steps and bumped into a row of lockers. Now panic set in. The room I was supposed to be in didn’t have lockers in it. Somehow, in the dark, I had blindly passed through a doorway and was now in another room.

I threw the books to the floor and groped for the door. I found a doorway but couldn’t locate a light switch. Confused and disoriented, I stumbled around, not knowing where I was or which way I needed to go. At last I came to a stop, my heart pounding. The darkness and silence seemed menacing now. I considered screaming and wondered if anyone outside, who happened to be walking by, would hear me. I didn’t think so. I imagined people coming to church Sunday and finding me curled in a fetal position on the floor.

As anxiety grew in me, I cried out, one word, “Help.” Immediately, a small red circle appeared, glowing faintly in the darkness. My heart beat even harder. What was that? My fear of being lost in the blackness was greater than my fear of the red dot. I crept toward it, moving through a doorway and into the basement kitchen. The glowing red light was on the stove. There was not enough light to illuminate the room, but it was enough for me to get my bearings. Feeling my way along the countertop, I found the door that led to the hallway and then to the stairs. My hands were still trembling as I locked the front door.

As dark as that basement was, that was not the darkest place I would ever find myself in. Poetically referred to as the dark night of the soul, despair, pain, and depression can bring darkness to roil within. I’ve been there. Most of us have been there, at some time. We can wait for a light to appear that will lead us out of the blackness. Sometimes it does. And sometimes, we need to bring the light, be the light.

I read a lovely article last week, by author and speaker Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth has experienced times of darkness and she discovered a way to bring the light into her life and into the lives of others. As she moved through her day, she looked, really looked, at every person she encountered and sent them a silent blessing, “May you know happiness. May you be free from suffering.” As the days passed, her life shifted and the darkness cleared. People responded to her. One group of ladies that she did not know even invited her to a concert.

Two things happen when we bless another: we send light energy to her that has a powerful, positive effect on the body and soul, whether she is aware of the blessing or not. And, as we become a conduit for light, the darkness within us is chased away. We are not creating light on our own. We are allowing Divine light to move through us. Everyone benefits.

That red light that appeared on the stove in the basement? After I calmed down at home, I began to worry about that tiny light. I realized it was an indicator light, and that meant the oven must be on. I didn’t want the oven to remain on until Sunday. What if there was a fire? Reluctantly, I returned to the church, and the basement, turning on every light I could find as I wound my way to the kitchen below. When I checked the stove, the red indicator light was not on. Nor was the oven warm. The stove was completely cold. I have no explanation for how that red light winked on. Except, I cried out for help, and help was given.

I finished the talk on Tuesday by sharing how many people are around me, around us, who are also crying out for help. And how important it is to bring the light, be the light. Today, although I was not in a dark place, I chose to offer blessings throughout the day, being light. It happened that today I was around a LOT of people. Sometimes I couldn’t look at every individual person in my vicinity. In those instances, I sent out waves of blessings, as suggested by Elizabeth, “May you know happiness. May you be free from suffering.” It was a beautiful day. Some people smiled at me, unaware that I was blessing them. Most did not acknowledge my presence, but that wasn’t the point. The purpose of today’s first was to allow light to flow through me, in the form of blessings, to as many other people as possible. I benefitted from the experience. And I had opportunity to talk to some of those people and offer out of who I am.

I was encouraged in turn, by some that I came in contact with. In one store, a woman spoke to me and asked about next year and whether I would continue blogging. I appreciated all that she shared with me and her words became part of my ongoing conversation with the Divine as I am guided to my word and theme for next year. What a blessing to me! May I continue to be a blessing to others.

May you know happiness. May you be free from suffering.

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