Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lighting the World #LighttheWorld

I found this picture in a museum in Hosfos, Iceland. These little girls know what it means to savor light when there is only three or so hours of sun in the darkest December days in Iceland. To cherish the light and see the possibilities for luminosity in the world is the first step toward giving light to others.

On the last day of 2015, our family gathered together to celebrate the upcoming new year. We decided to read two books together, and choose a word that would be our personal theme for 2016. The plan: that particular word would illuminate our choices and actions. It would be our individual creed or mantra in moments when we felt adrift. One simple word to jolt us back into remembering our rooted resolves. My word for this year? What's the word that has repeatedly sprung to inspire and remind me to be a little more hopeful in wavering times? The word is light.

The city of Doha, Qatar in the background with three of my sons enjoying the dusk. The Middle East captures a whole new definition of light with it's explosive sunrises--with no obstruction of vertical slopes to dim the rays. There are few shadows in a desert--just expansive, voluminous light.

Another year of being an expat in the Middle East has given me a front row seat to a kaleidoscope of cultures, religions, and new friends. It is a journey that makes us nomads, but also seeing the immense goodness of people on a grassroots level in the world--even when chaos and upheaval swirl around us. James Fallows, a journalist, wrote about his travels over the "flyover"America in The Atlantic Monthly places he previously thought had not much culture or economic potential. He states that when people are discouraged about the state of America or their locale political problems, the answer is: get closer to the action at home, immediate issues at hand. Make a difference. Support a public art project in the community. Read to a child. Engage in your own community to make it better. Forgive a loved one. As he states, "Hopeless places are reinventing themselves" because individuals are willing to turn the tide. They are lighting their candle.

For me a lightness of being and looking for the light are anchors I look to daily. And when we seek for the light, we undoubtedly find it--in the glory of nature, in thoughts and ideas, within people. We feel the surge of luminous light when we love and serve; burdens and struggles vanish when we try to see the soul of another. I have traveled to many countries now, and am endlessly fascinated with how other cultures and peoples crave and cling to light. We as humanity have the ability to be conductors of light, to shed goodness and joy. When we are our best selves, forgiving, loving, giving, we shine. And that is when we know and can see who we really are.

All the shadows and layers disappear when we choose to light our candle--in our home, neighborhood, and the places we thought as previously "flyover." Every candle counts, and if the wind momentarily snuffs our candle out, we can rekindle the light in each other.

Lighting the candle to be dropped into the Thu Bon River in the beautiful town of Hoi An,Vietnam. It is considered good luck for the year to light a candle, and then lower it into the river with a basket. You can then float down the river in a boat with the candles in a little box drifting next to you. I have to say it is magical.

I was at a traditional Indian wedding this year, and these are the aunts (they let us participate) giving light to the bride.
To see the radiance of beauty in our world can always give lightness to our souls--pushing away cares--making them drift down the river, far from our gaze.
I love this picture of my dear neighbor's children, and my husband getting some stitches out. It is time in this world to #LighttheWorld with more than tolerance, but kindness. more than inclusion, but friendship. Starting with our neighbors and communities, it will ripple over all the borders in this world.