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Follow the Light: Diverse Meanings and Remembering Goodness

Have you given yourself a moment to follow the light in your life? What if you lost the path because of difficult times? How do you find that light again?

There is a famous quote from the late civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about light and darkness: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Light is a powerful force in the world. If you’re a religious or spiritual person like myself, you recognize light as coming from God. If you turned to Scripture, you would find verses talking about light in relation to Jesus Christ and God’s goodness. Here’s an example from Genesis 1:3-4: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.” Or, consider Buddhism where the Buddha’s last words to his disciples were, “Be your own light,” meaning people have the light inside them and the moment is awakened by truth or a particular experience. We refer to this moment of clarity as enlightenment. In Taoism and other cultures that study Chinese Philosophy, we look at the symbol of Yin and Yang, or Taijitu. Here, light and darkness complement one another despite being opposites. One cannot exist without the other. But, light and dark may be skewed: lack one side and have excess of the other.

I think light has numerous interpretations according to our beliefs, upbringing, passions and influences in life. If you took a nature walk and looked up at the trees, seeing sunshine brighten the scene, you might feel warmth, tranquility and quiet in your soul. If the power went out in your home and you used a candle and flashlight, you would use that light to trace your path until your electricity came back. Figuratively and literally, you might discover a light in a dark place whether it’d be a beacon shining from a distance or a person’s spirit awakening your heart from despair and brokenness.

Like life itself, we celebrate the good times and endure the bad times. Unfortunately, the bad times can extinguish light and make us lose our way.

I’ve mulled over finding, and remembering, light in the wake of recent events. Like many, the events in Charlottesville, Virginia left me rattled. I truly felt like I was losing faith in my fellow man. The catastrophic floods down in Texas and Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey have also plagued my mind, watching the devastation unfold on television and hearing heartbreaking stories of people losing or trying to find missing loved ones and friends.

But I saw light again in the aftermath of Harvey and was encouraged by the true human spirit of giving and helping. I watched neighbors helping neighbors, an impromptu worship and praise to God led by a group at one of the shelters, a human chain helping rescue someone from a sinking car. People in boats searching neighborhoods to save those stranded in their flooded homes. First responders have been working around the clock to evacuate the most vulnerable from hospitals and nursing homes.

If there is one way to remember and follow the light, it’s this: look for goodness. Look at strangers reaching out to others, friends and family comforting and encouraging one another. When we take time to actually care for each other and not ourselves, we radiate light that people attach to and want to emit for themselves.

Light is where we find healing. It may just take some time but it’s there.

The key to hold on to is that your light never left.