broken, darkness, gratitude, grief, light, love, suffering

Looking for Light

My heart felt heavy this morning. My heart felt broken open to all the pain that those around me are suffering.

Her husband is dying and it may be time to stop treatment.
Her step-sister died at a tragically young age.
Her dog is dying and she doesn’t know how many snuggles and walks are left.
She is receiving cancer treatment.
They are (still) trying to conceive.
She’s preparing for anniversary of her friend’s death.
So many children are starting kindergarten this year and it’s hard for parents to watch them go.
It’s her mom’s birthday but her mom is no longer here.

And these are just the stories I’m aware of… I know there are so many more.

As I was driving to work, the weight of all of these stories led me to tears. Life can be so painful.

And then I saw this billboard:


Last weekend a synagogue in Carmel was vandalized with a message of hate. It was despicable and cowardly and it didn’t work. A few days later that synagogue was filled to the brim – past fire code numbers, I suspect. People from all over Carmel and Indianapolis came to support this congregation, to tell them they are not alone and that we stand with them in the midst of this evil act. So, now there are twelve billboards across the city with this message of love.

I smiled when I saw that sign. It helped me have a bit more faith in humanity.

I’ve heard that when the heart breaks there is more room for the light to get in. Well, then there should be a lot of light shining into and out from my heart today.

It’s because of these difficult times that I force myself to see the love. But, I don’t just want to see it. I want to go looking for it – I am looking for light all day long. I’ve seen it today.

I saw a literal sign of love and hope and solidarity. I saw the beautiful sunrise and the way the light made the clouds on the other side of the sky look like a painting. I saw people parked on the side of the road waiting for the hot air balloons to rise from the fairgrounds. I saw the smiles on my co-workers faces when I shared stories about Steve. I saw so much love on Facebook in response to my birthday yesterday. I saw stories of shared pasts and connections through those posts. I saw heart emojis on my phone after sending texts to some of those people listed above.

The light isn’t always going to show up in obvious places. There are times I have to go looking for it. But the thing is, once you start looking for light, you discover that it’s everywhere. And then, you just can’t stop looking, because finding the light is like opening one gift after another. It just keeps coming…

I saw light as I opened the conversation to talk with my co-worker about his baby on the way. I saw light as I examined the healing incision on my head. I saw light in the fresh air during my mid-day morning “get away from the computer” walk. I saw light in the laughter of one of my co-workers as I helped her navigate social media.

So often the way we connect with one another is through complaining or criticizing or pointing out others’ flaws. It feels a bit out of the ordinary to compliment and celebrate and encourage, but I think that’s what we need to do more. When we look for the light in each other, we’ll start finding the light in ourselves as well.

On a hot day when I’m outside working, I make sure to pay attention to any signs of relief. When on mission trips, I’d point out any breezes or cloud cover – “thank you for the breeze!” I’d exclaim. Recently while helping out on a farm project on a particularly hot morning, I said, “Oh doesn’t that breeze feel so nice!” I got some “oh Anne” looks in response. I get it, the breeze didn’t last long and we were melting. However, it was bit of relief and I was doing my best to find the light, as minuscule as it might have been.

Last night I heard my mom say, “Doesn’t that breeze feel so nice?” Oh, so that’s where it comes from.

When moments are hard and challenging and heart breaking, sometimes the last thing we want to do is be positive. It takes work. It doesn’t always feel authentic. Even in my darkest moments, it’s possible to find authentic gratitude, true light…

For the quilt that holds me while I cry.
For the friend that sends me a text.
For the tissues to blow my nose.
For the darkness – yes, even darkness can be light.

For all my friends suffering today, I’m sending you Light. And, if you’re not able to look for light today, I’ll do it for you until you’re ready to try on your own.


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