"God saw the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness." Genesis 1:4. For with you is the fountain of life, in your light, we see light." Psalm 36:9 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16. "The new dawn blooms as we free it 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, American Poet.
We all (maybe not all) breathed a sigh of relief as the new president was sworn in. In my opinion, this is because I believe that we, collectively, did not want there to be any violence or disruption to this long held, enshrined, constitutional tradition of a peaceful transfer of power. As in any contest, there is a winner and a loser. Neither is diminished because of that status. The country voted for a new leader; and he may or may not have been our choice. However, in the spirit of democracy and/or FairPlay, we wish the new administration well. This should be our attitude regardless of who wins.
Of the many touching moments of the inaugural ceremony, Amanda Gorman stood out. Yes, she is young and gifted. Her delivery of a well crafted, comprehensive, and timely poem was majestic. But, beyond her impeccable appearance and her flawless verbal recital, her words were especially poignant and filled with wisdom. As noted above, she instructed us to turn inward and to see that I, you, and we can point the way out of the darkness that we as a nation have been engulfed. The solution lies within us. We can choose to make a difference by simply being the light.
Light is defined as the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible; A person notable or eminent in a particular sphere of activity or place. Life is referred to as light. "In Him was life; and the life was the light of men." John 1:4. According to the Bible light stands for spiritual illumination and truth. It encompasses all that is pure, good and holy as opposed to the darkness and evil.
Ms. Gorman charges us to "be the light." To be the light means in times of darkness you offer hope, encouragement, kindness and compassion. Sometimes to "Be the Light" means to carry on the torch for what needs to be completed or be made new. It may mean to give of yourself in a new way to a situation or cause or relationship you are in. This is not a new revelation. "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9. Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." Michael Jackson in his, "Man in the Mirror" lyrics states that we have to start with ourselves in order to make the world a better place. "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change." Man in the Mirror.
This reminder from Ms. Gorman is a wakeup call. Sometimes we get so caught up in being alive, that we miss the point of living. There are so many concerns for consideration that the sheer magnitude overwhelms us. The easy and popular way out is to point the fingers of blame away from us. Or, we reason that someone who is more qualified or with more interest or getting paid will deal with it. If we are honest, things left undone will remain that way until each of us is willing to do our share to help. We each bear responsibility for the outcome and well being of our society.
In the scripture penned above, Matthew 5:16, we are reminded that we have this light on the inside of us that we are to share with the world. For those of us who espouse to a religious belief, we attribute this light to be not of ourselves. "Indeed we have this light in earthen vessels to demonstrate that the good works that we do are from God and not from us." When others see the light in you, as evidenced by good deeds, love and service, they will be encouraged to love and to serve and want to know more about and/or praise the God who inspires you.
I know, being the light requires something of us. The cost of leadership is high, but being a role model is where you can start. Not many of us are willing to give our lives for a cause, as many of our great leaders have by stepping up and letting the light in their lives shine, illuminating the way to freedom, civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, voting rights, equal pay for equal work, etc. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that....Life's most persistent and urgent question is, "What are you doing for others?" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
GET YOUR LIGHT FROM UNDER A BUSH AND LET IT SHINE! "Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. In the same way let your light shine before others" Matthew 5:15-16.
1. What is preventing you from "being the light?" Think about it. Most of us have more than we can handle in a normal day, especially if we have a job and a family, (at least that is what we claim). Before you respond, go deep within and come up with an answer that you can defend with sincerity. Is it really about time? I don't want to be pushy, but speaking for myself, I find time for whatever it is that I want to do. With that said, perhaps you do not have time to go out and lead with your light. However, you do not have to go anywhere to lead with your light. Your light is how you show up in the world; the things that you do to better life for yourself and others. What about the light you are reflecting in your home, at work, at play? Are you proud of the way you are impacting others in these areas? If yes, continue and take it up a notch. If not, start now. It is never to late.
2. Role Models: Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Selfless Lights I don't believe that either of these wonderful role models were born knowing that their lives would be a sacrifice to others. But each saw a need and did not count the cost. There are many leaders who merit mention here, but there is not enough space. I selected these two special people because of the monumental sacrifice each made on behalf of humanity.
Mother Teresa, born in Skopje; the current capital of the Republic of Macedonia, was a nun and a missionary known in the Catholic church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, devoted her life to caring for the sick, the poor, the destitute and dying. She taught in India for 17 years at St. Mary's School in Calcutta, but the suffering outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948, she received permission to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. Her order established a hospice; centers for the blind, aged and disabled, and a leper colony. Her mother taught her compassion at an early age and she practiced it for the rest of her life. "My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing with others," her mother counseled her daughter. In 1950, she received permission to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity," whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after. Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She refused the Nobel honor banquet and requested the prize money be used to help the poor in India. What a brilliant light!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., born in Atlanta, GA was an American Baptist Minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955, until his assassination in 1968. Dr. King is best known for his advancing civil rights through non-violence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the non-violent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. Dr. King's strong belief in nonviolent protest helped set the tone of the movement. Boycotts, protests and marches were eventually effective, and much legislation was passed against racial discrimination. His non violent approach to protesting, his legions of followers and his true belief in the ability of mankind to live in peace went a long way toward the advancement of civil rights. He was following in the footsteps of his father, Martin Luther King Sr., who was an early civil rights activist. Kings's accomplishments were numerous, including being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. He donated the prize money of $54,123. to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. We will never forget his delivering his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 at the March on Washington. There is a holiday established in his honor. We are still pursuing our dreams; still walking in the astonishing light that he cast!
3. Impact the World? How about dealing with your corner? Taking on too much is a way to give yourself permission to bow out. It's a setup. So don't do it. It's like me saying I am going to fast two days a week; drinking only water. Not happening. Just saying it is a interlude to failure. Back to our discussion. Let's review light again. Light is used to convey something positive like goodness, life and hope. It is also associated with wisdom and enlightenment. Light is said to conquer darkness and to bring order to chaos. If you have lived any length of time on this earth, you have amassed some experience, some wisdom. It is the fruit of this wisdom that you can use to impact (lead) your corner of the world. Remember, your corner can be your household. Share the wisdom that you get with your children by being someone who can be counted on to always to give love and guidance and direction. This light will be manifested in them in later. Don't stop there, be an influencer (one who positively affects the lives of others) and/or a groundbreaker in every area of your life. Be a person of integrity. Help somebody else; step up and lead when and where you have the opportunity. Where you see chaos, sow peace. Where there is hate, show love. Where there is a need, fill it. Letting your light shine in this way will illumine the way for many lives, even those not yet born. Begin somewhere, right away.
For thirty two years, I reported to work as a teacher and then as an administrator in the New York City public school system. Each day I went prepared to give the staff and students my best. This was not a problem for me because I loved my job and I love children and was taught from a young age to always give my best. Fast forward 32 years to my retirement party. The accolades and the heartfelt outpouring of love and appreciation for my service were humbling and overwhelming. There were staff, students and administrators who shared how I had impacted their lives for the better and students who told how they were so fortunate to have me as a teacher because of my love, concern and going the distance for them and who were now teachers because of me. I was speechless and in tears. This was all because I let my light shine while doing my job. It is the same level of input that I bring to every aspect of my life and to every corner of my life. I am honored that I am able to let my light shine and grateful that others have been the beneficiaries of my efforts.
If you have been hiding your light, now is the time to uncover it for all to see. Each of us has some light within. The world is in need of help and all of us are uniquely qualified to participate and give remedy. Smile, stop complaining. Change your attitude, adopt one of love and service. "Light a candle." "God saw that the light was good." Do good! Be the light.
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