Look in the light?
I’m sure you all know the story about the man who was looking for something under a street-light. A passer-by stopped to help and asked what he was looking for. “A sixpence,” the first man said. “I dropped a sixpence.” “Where did you drop it?” asked the second man. “Over there”, the first man said, pointing outwards into the dark. “Why are you looking for it here, then?”, said the newcomer. “Because here is where the light is”, answered the first.
So many of us run our lives on that principle. We know we need light. So we head towards the light. But so has everyone else. And in business-terms, that patch is “over-traded”. In social terms, the “in-crowd” is there.
Look beyond the light
It is good to be there too. But who is being excluded? And why?
In many countries, we are approaching the Christmas festival and many of us will be packing up preparing to criss-cross the globe to rejoin family. We are heading towards the light and warmth of the family hearth.
In the Christian tradition, it is also a time to think about those who are not included around a family hearth. It is a gesture of kindness and compassion to reach out.
It is also in our self-interest. Poets remind us that it is in the dark, the place where we generally do not look or listen, where the value of our lives might be. Paying attention to the dark might bring value to the hearth.
Poetry about looking beyond the light
Here is a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke on making friends with the dark. Maybe that should be the New Year’s Resolution for 2010. To spend a moment each day looking beyond the circle of light into the dark beyond?
You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them!
– powers and people-
and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.
I have faith in nights.
Rainer Maria Rilke