The days seem to get increasingly darker, with more and more atrocities being committed in ever more appalling ways. The days here are getting increasingly darker, noticeably now, as the sunsets come earlier each evening and night extinguishes the last rays of light from the sky ever-sooner.
Perhaps in the same way the seasons have always spun their cycle of light, waxing and waning with time, so too the history of humanity might mirror the pattern of light and dark, and it’s my hope that at some point in future, we will get to a patch of brightness. Regardless, we can all take courage and work towards it, tilling what seems such dark, uncertain soil, with our best efforts to infuse love, compassion, and kindness.
St John of the Cross said “In the evening of our life, we shall be judged by our loving”, and so we shall. Maybe there will be a grand judgement day when all our sins and good deeds are weighed and measured, and we are pronounced – what? More certainly, there will be those whose lives we have touched and been part of, who will look back on the times they shared with us, and proffer their opinion on who we were, and what we meant to them.
For those who loved well, brought light to other people’s lives, and were points of brightness, there will be fond memories, cherished recollections, and sharing of the more wonderful points of the character of the departed.
For those who loved poorly, there will be bitter retrospection and relived hurts, perhaps even uncharitable gladness about the person’s no-more existence.
For those who were more of a mixture, depending on so many variables, it might be hoped that the balance might fall on the side of good, especially on that final day of parting, and that the louder conversation would be held amongst those who held dear the one who died…perhaps the naysayers could find it in themselves to hold their peace.
In a week of mourning across the world, but especially in France, where an act of terrorism was perpetrated, so despicable the world is still reeling, we are wise to question the contents of our characters. We are wise to give thanks for what we have. We are wise to look to our loved ones and hold them close. We are wise to seek to build bridges in relationships which have gone awry. We are wise to take solace in the comfort of our good friends. We are wise to educate ourselves and keep our minds and hearts open to new ideas.
In a week where the wailing and reminiscing, good, bad, and mixed, is only just beginning as those 84 lives are mourned; in a week less than a month from when we mourned for the 36 lives lost in Istanbul; in a week which, I realise, slides horrifically into the statistics on Wikipedia for ‘Terrorist Attacks 2016’ (given month by month, as there are too many to put on one page) with not even the highest fatality count, and the repeated words ‘suicide bomb’, ‘bombing’, ‘shooting’, ‘execution’ sit starkly alongside greater numbers than I ever knew possible, I know we must take courage.
We must take courage to stand up and speak out against prejudice and ignorance.
We must take courage and commit to spreading truth and compassion in the face of entrenched opposition.
We must take courage and find ways forwards against the forces which seek to bully, to oppress, to undermine, and to disenfranchise.
We must take courage and act purposefully for good, for right, and for justice, however we can.
We must take courage and embrace this world in all its messy, glorious diversity, whilst refusing to accept that this is just how things are, but rather believing that we can make the difference – we can change it for the better, if we try.
We must set our shoulders against the torrents of darkness and raise our voices against the storm. Courage, courage, for together we are stronger and can stand firm.
In the face of violence and aggression, we can choose love.
In the face of cruelty and besmirching, we can choose love.
In the face of uncertainty and dischord, we can choose love.
The love we need to rely on and demonstrate, is not the soft, fluffy, sparkly version we enjoy in the most wonderous of relationships, but rather a sturdy, determined, more enduring kind. It is tough, firm, fair, patient. It seeks justice, safety, kindness. It defends rights, demands that responsibilities are fulfilled, and insists on the truth. It persists. It chooses with compassion. It gives leeway but doesn’t give in. It won’t budge on the profession that #LoveWins, no matter what anyone might think to the contrary.
And we who choose love? We won’t always get it right. We won’t always figure it out. We won’t always have the capacity. We will find ourselves beset, besieged, contended against and distracted, and we’ll perhaps often feel as though we’re doing a bad job of love. But each day will provide new opportunities for us to grasp, new ways for us to show love, to do love. And with courage, together, we’ll get ever better at taking them.
Even amidst darkness, we can choose to let love shine. ❤
And as for gratitude? (this is a ‘thankful’ post, after all)
I’m thankful for stability. I’m thankful for (relative) peace. I’m thankful for opportunities to change my future. I’m thankful for chances to prove my worth. I’m thankful for shoulders to cry on. I’m thankful for encouragement in challenges. I’m thankful for books and naps to get lost in. I’m thankful for understanding and solidarity. I’m thankful, as ever, for the chance to prattle on in the hopes that for some, somewhere, my words might resonate, build bridges, and unite against all that seeks to divide. I’m thankful for love, and the opportunities I have to show it.
This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on Compassion and Courage.
Write a relevant post and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.
Here’s how to get involved:
Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook
Visit the 1000Speak blog
Follow @1000Speak on Twitter
Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.