Be the Light: We Can Make a Difference

Thank you, dear readers, for this space to pass on two blog posts I’ve read this week about how we can be part of transforming this country, and the world, into an inhabitable place of love rather than a fearful place of hate.

And I would be remiss not to also say VOTE! It’s our privilege and our responsibility. 

From my writing teacher, mentor, and friend, Christina Baldwin: How Apology Works.

Apology requires that we have the emotional maturity to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ even when we are not 100% sure we are 100% to blame. Training in this maturity begins in kindergarten as children are coached through ambiguous social interactions…

“…Again and again we race past opportunities that could help us heal and choose instead to cause more harm. To compound tragedy, it seems quite clear that Justice Kavanaugh has no idea he missed his chance to cross the divide of privilege and pain in this country; that he could have called Senators to their integrity, rallied bipartisan support for his entry onto the Supreme Court, and most importantly, stood as a surrogate in the shattered places in a million women’s hearts by saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ And we, the battered citizens of America, would have been shown a model for opening dialogue toward relationships of amends. He might even have shown the president how to behave.

Read the post here to see the words Justice Kavenaugh might have said that could have had transformative powers rather than those he did say that widened the chasm.

Justice Kavenaugh missed a huge and public opportunity. But how many opportunities do we each miss every day? From another author whose blog I read, Heather Lende (author of “Find the Good,”): The Light of Trees and Grandmas.

He was really nice to her, and spoke gently and slowly, and took the time to point her in the right direction, even though there was a line and he was in the middle of ringing me up (and I was late for a meeting.) She was so appreciative she smiled with a beautiful bright light and thanked him earnestly and walked toward the produce section…

“…Did you know that elders played a significant evolutionary role in safe communities? You know how after fifty-five or so we don’t sleep as well as we used to? Turns out that was good for the clan, or the tribe, or the village. Grandmas like me shouted the alarm when there was danger in the night. And don’t you think that now is a good time to be extra awake and pay attention, and call out to the lights all around us when we see and hear them in the darkness– the kind gestures, the well chosen words, the pleases and thank yous, and how can I help yous that shine us on the path to peace and justice and how we want to live with others in this world we share? Isn’t it the least we can do?

Read the post here to see how a grocery store clerk seized an opportunity to be the light. And how the author passed the light back to him.

And as Heather Lende reminds us, there is always Mary Oliver:
“Go easy, be filled with light, shine.”

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

—Mary Oliver




2 thoughts on “Be the Light: We Can Make a Difference

  1. These are so beautiful Gretchen… I am honored to be linked to Heather Lende’s beautiful observations, and of course revel in Mary Oliver’s poetry. I am so puzzled how we can get these moments of “shine” out to the larger narrative–to overcome the noise and horror that is the media these days. Write on, my friend … we all are doing our best to be the marigold petals of blessing in the days of the dead… love you, Christina.


    1. And I love you, Christina. How can we do it? We are doing it, of course. It feels like a drop in the proverbial bucket, but one day all the drops will fill it up, as they have for all of time. I pray that this time on Wednesday, hope will be in the air; but whether it is or it isn’t, the world still needs the storytellers and example setters. Thank you for the shining example that is you. 💜 G


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