There is always Light

She caught sight of his familiar uniform from the corner of her eye. He looked so tired, she thought, he must have worked a really long week. As she approached the counter with her lovely bottle of wine she said, “I’d like to pay for the gentleman’s items behind me, please. “The store attendant gave her a little smile and confirmed, “You want to pay for the postal worker’s beer?” She nodded in agreement. The attendant rang up her wine and the beer and then informed the unknowing man that his Friday evening beverage had been paid for. The surprised man thanked the young woman with wide eyes and a sincere, “muchas gracias, muchas gracias,” then left the store with a little hop in his step.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

if only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman

On January 20, 2021 America’s first-ever youth poet laureate reminded us that there is always light amidst the darkness of life’s woes. Amanda Gorman’s beautifully recited Inauguration Day poem awakened something in my soul that had lain dormant for far too long. In the midst of this horrifying pandemic, I had forgotten that beauty and goodness abound in every corner of this great land. While many have (and still do) deeply suffered and struggled over the past twelve months, as human beings we have not lost our ability to love and support one another.

Saint Thomas Aquinas said, “To love is to will the good of the other.” This is the type of love which I have seen “shining in the darkness” of these pandemic days – simple things like; cooking a delicious meal for family or neighbors, sitting patiently with children during online learning, sending encouraging cards/texts to struggling friends, paying for a stranger’s goods or dropping off groceries to a person needing a little break. These small acts symbolize real, authentic love in action – the type of love which God gives to us freely every day. This type of love has no conditions or expectations. It is love where one person simply wishes to make another person’s life better, happier and more content. When I see these beautiful, random acts of love, I am reminded of the words in St. John’s gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

As I pondered Ms. Gorman’s extraordinary poem, and the last three lines in particular, I was reminded that the light of love is always there for us to see. But sometimes we might get too caught up in our own pain to be brave enough to see it. Thinking back a few years, I recall a time when I received the gift of this light filled love from my mom, during a time when we were both in the midst of difficult physical pain. Sadly, I am not sure that I truly appreciated her sacrifice in the moment. My beautiful mom drove up to see me after one of my back fusion surgeries. She had come bringing dinner, treats and love. Her presence that day was a gift to me on so many levels – the warmth of her smile, the smell of her perfume and the familiarity of her sweet step in my kitchen as she assembled dinner for my family. When I think back on it now, I am amazed at her fortitude. You see, mom had been diagnosed with cancer and had undergone brain radiation. She was also taking a daily chemo drug which definitely affected her abilities in more ways than we will ever know. But she never spoke about that. Somehow, on that memorable day, she mustered up the strength and courage to make the long drive to my home and care for me in the midst of my pain and suffering – with no regard for her own. That day, she was brave enough to see a need and be a shining light for me.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

if only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman

Mom modeled the type of love which Aquinas wrote about in the thirteenth century and she lived in the light of love which Amanda Gorman spoke about on Inauguration Day 2021. She stands as a reminder that we can be light to each other in a troubled world and together, we can illuminate the darkness in our midst. Mom’s actions were not things that made the front page of the newspaper. They were small acts of love done with kindness, which are the best type according to Saint Mother Teresa. She taught anyone who knew her that generosity of spirit makes the world a happier place – no matter where you are in life. Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, a Catholic priest who was arrested by the Communist government in 1975 and imprisoned for thirteen years without a trial said during his solitary confinement, “I will not wait. I will live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love.

There is no doubt that we are not out of the storm of this pandemic yet. But perhaps we can enter its final stage with a renewed attitude to love one another? Perhaps we can seek to be light in the face of darkness and be brave enough to see the tired postal workers in our lives. What a gift that would be.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

if only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman

4 thoughts on “There is always Light

  1. Just beautiful Jen – Amanda’s words stunned me – and your reflection of Nona’s small and powerful daily acts is such a poignant reminder to all as we go about our daily work – really, just beautiful. xo T

    Liked by 1 person

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