Looking back, I have mixed feelings about leaving 2016 behind. On the one hand, I want nothing more than to turn my back on the ugly election cycle and it’s deplorable outcome.(yes, I intentionally use that word) On the other hand, 2016 saw my daughter, Dana, marry Chad, the love of her life, and it was a burst of love so spectacular, it remains a bright, shining memory in an otherwise dark year.
So, going into 2017, I’ve made a conscious decision to shine my light throughout the coming year. Not to get all preachy and stuff, but all the world’s religions mention the importance of light. In Christianity, Jesus is said to be “the light of the world,” by the apostle John. In the gospel of Matthew, Christ reminds the disciples, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” He’s basically telling them (and us) to show through our actions that same love, compassion and forgiveness that He did. Hindus, Jainists, and Sikhs celebrate Diwali, which is a festival of lights signifying the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. The Quran refers to Allah as “the Light of the heavens and the earth…” And, of course, there’s the Menorah, sacred symbol of Judaism. Scholars have noted that it branches outwards, just as our demeanor, behavior, personality, and especially good deeds should branch out and influence others to illuminate the world around us.
How will you shine your light this year? I suggest you start small. Clean out your closet and donate those pants you’re never going to fit into to the thrift store in your community. Mine is the Gold Mine Resale Shop run by the Women’s Resource Center here in Petoskey, Michigan. And while you’re at it, most local libraries would love to have your gently used books, especially best sellers and even DVD’s. Feeling more ambitious? Volunteer in your community. Find a cause that speaks to you and let’s you shine your light. I’m on the board of the Manna Food Project, and even drive their truck once a week to rescue food from area stores for use in their pantry and the other 37 agencies in northern Michigan. My daughter, Dana, volunteers at the Trevor Project in Los Angeles. They provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. Really getting interested now? Attend city council meetings, write letters to the editor about causes you support, contact your elected officials and let them know how you feel about issues. Go out and shine your light!
I’ll leave you with “This Little Light of Mine.” Nobody sings it better that the VeggieTales.