Sunday, December 15, 2013

From Deepest Darkness There Came Great Light

A Christmas story that came to me two years ago. I share it with wishes for your life to be illuminated with light and love this holiday season and every day.

From deepest darkness there came great light.

It matters where the light falls

A manger is a trough from which horses and cattle are fed. Once a manger was padded with hay that a baby might rest upon it and the world be fed. Gentle hands laid him to rest upon a bed of straw and a great light from deepest darkness fell upon him.

They did not know that it matters where the light falls, that if it falls upon a heart so open, it will find there not just a home, but a mirror to reflect it back. When they looked upon him they saw the great light shining back through his heart, his smile, his touch, his words. But it matters where the light falls. For some, the reflected light from deepest darkness warmed and illuminated them and they felt great and abiding joy. For others the light was blinding, and they could not look directly at it. They feared it because they knew that to look at the sun could do great harm. They didn’t know that this son meant them no harm.

It matters where the light falls. Some saw the light from afar and knew it was a beacon that could guide them. They let the light fall upon their hearts and found it would lead them across vast expanses and bring them at last to the source of the light. And so it did. It brought them to a tiny manger from which they were fed, one small heart reflecting the light for all to see. For that is what he was from the moment he was laid in the manger, simply a reflector of the great light from deepest darkness.

It matters where the light falls. If it falls upon the doors of an inn that are closed, the light will warm and illuminate only the door, not able to enter across the threshold.

That night long ago, it fell upon a stable whose doors were swung wide and whose creatures were welcoming. That night it found an open manger, a receptive place, for the light to be laid with gentleness upon a soft bed created with love. That night the great light that sprung from deepest darkness came to rest upon the heart of a child. His heart, which was so great in one so small, welcomed the light and there was immeasurable joy.

His heart shone forth with the light. His heart was the light. His heart is each heart.

The great light from deepest darkness ever shines and ever touches all, it matters only whether it falls upon a closed door or upon a place with doors open and a manger waiting where the light can rest and feed all.

Lynda Allen
December 17, 2011

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Three Candles

I wrote this one year ago today, after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It still brings me to tears to think of that terrible day and those children, teachers and administrators that were lost.

The President is encouraging people to join in a moment of silence today at 9:30 AM EST. I will be joining in the silence and praying for light and love for all those who need it in Connecticut and all those around the world who may be experiencing darkness.

This was the only prayer I could manage on December 14, 2012.

Three Candles
Lynda Allen

Words cannot fill a heart that has drained of life.
Words cannot recreate the color in a cheek.
Words cannot open an eye that has closed.
Words cannot utter the unspeakable grief.

So I lit three candles.
I don’t know why there were three,
one was too lonely, and two was not enough.

So I lit three candles,
as my heart ached and my tears fell.
I poured water beneath one candle
for the healing it represents
hoping it would be felt.

So I lit three candles
trusting that somehow the light would carry
to the places that now seem so dark.
I wish I had a million candles to light tonight.
I would create a circle of light to surround our planet,
to encircle my human family,
to illuminate all the darkness.

So I lit three candles,
to create just one moment for us to all stand in the light.
A moment to see each other
and know we are not alone,
to see that our hearts beat together in our sorrow,
as they can beat together again one day in joy.
One moment for us all to stand in the light
and see that they are all our children,
that we all grieve to the core of our being
for the lights we have lost,
as we can heal together for the sake of those lights.

So I lit three candles,
My breath shallow, my cheeks damp, my heart heavy,
And I looked at those lights and I prayed.
I prayed for more lights.
I prayed for an inferno fueled by love,
A fire bright enough to be seen by the angels,
Hot enough to warm a heart cold with sorrow,
Strong enough to kindle a spark.

So I lit three candles 
And I prayed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Legacy of Choice ~ Nelson Mandela

Many thanks to the Washington Post for printing my letter to editor about Nelson Mandela's legacy. It was an honor to get to add to the tributes being paid to this man of peace. Due to space constraints what was in the Post was a slightly shorter version than what I originally wrote. So I thought I would post the whole piece here now that it has run in the paper.

Nelson Mandela’s passing is a great loss to all those who would live a life of peace. It is also a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon his legacy. While his life leaves us with an example of peace, non-violence and forgiveness, his greatest legacy to me is one of choice. He taught me that I can choose peace over war, love over hate, forgiveness over bitterness. The important part though, was that through his own life I learned that it is indeed an active choice, that sometimes you have to choose peace even when you feel great anger or frustration, that you can choose forgiveness when on the surface you have every human reason to hold on to your bitterness. Through his life I learned that the choice of love over hatred is always worth the effort of the choice.

His life didn’t demonstrate this to me because he lived a pristine life walking along the path of peace.  Rather his life taught me that while we live in a world where there is great discrepancy between what some have and what some don’t, whether what you have is power, money or food, and while those discrepancies can cause us to feel divided, angry and frustrated, we can choose what to do with those emotions. His life taught me that you can choose to sit in a prison cell, ill and mistreated and emerge angry or you can emerge with a will to bring change through peace, to bring love and unity to all you do.

Nelson Mandela made many choices in his life, choices made during a turbulent and difficult time in his homeland.  There were moments when he didn’t choose peace over violence. Yet, his life will be a lasting legacy of peace because despite a choice he made yesterday or last year or ten years ago, he knew that each moment held a new choice, a new opportunity to live in peace, to choose forgiveness, to offer love. That is the lasting legacy Nelson Mandela handed down to me. I am deeply grateful to him and the example of his life as I strive to make choices of peace, forgiveness and love in my own small ways every day. Thank you, Mr. Mandela. 

Lynda Allen

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Part of Me in Two-Part Harmony

On Thanksgiving morning I was half asleep around 6:00 am and words started floating through my dream. I could tell they were intentional, that they had a form and weren't just random. I chose to try to pay attention even though I was still mostly asleep. I could tell they were about war, but that's pretty much all I knew. Once the poem took form I told myself ok, I will remember that. I quickly thought better of that and got myself out of my nice warm bed and into the cold morning and wrote them down. I had a fleeting thought at some point that they might be for or from my Uncle Bob. He had been in the hospital and had come home that week and was receiving hospice care. 

We found out on Friday that he passed away on Thanksgiving day.  In talking with my Dad that day I found that Uncle Bob had been at the Battle of the Bulge. I don't know if I knew that already or not. After I got back home the second half of the writing came along. For me they clearly went together so that is how they are presented below.  I don't really know how he felt about the war, but the writings really felt linked to him somehow.

I loved my Uncle Bob. When I was little, every time he would come over to visit I would run to meet him and beg him to lift me up so I could touch the ceiling! He would happily oblige, with a big smile on his face. (Even when I was little I wanted to fly!) Then when I was older and going through a difficult time (which mostly involved me being the difficulty!), he and my Aunt Lee were very supportive of me. I still call them my other Mother and Father. So I guess for me this is my small attempt to now return the favor and lift him up. I wish he had received the card I sent him in time so he would know that I had already been doing just that. I will trust that he knows.

For you Uncle Bob, my other Father...

Part of Me in Two-Part Harmony
Lynda Allen

Part 1

Part of me
across the mounds of dirt,
among the trenches.

Part of me
is lost,
no way home.

Part of me
can’t forget
the vacant eyes,
the smell in the air,
the anguished cries.

Part of me
can’t remember
the way of love.

So part of me
across the mounds of dirt,
among the trenches.

One day
when my wandering
that part of me may,
at last, find its way home.

Part 2

You close a door.
Sometimes it’s all you can do; you just close a door in your mind because there is nothing else you can do. You can’t ignore what’s there, you can’t say it didn’t happen, but you can close a door so you don’t have to look at it all the time. You can even pile things up in front of the door in hopes that it will remain closed. You fool yourself that it will work. It’s all you could do because we didn’t cry, we didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t our way. You just closed the door and prayed, and I mean really prayed, that you would have the strength to close it again when it opened at some unexpected moment. Because it would, you knew it would. A sound, a smell, hell, something as insignificant as an unevenness in the ground beneath your feet that feels the same as that blasted bit of earth. Some trigger that you didn’t see coming, just like your buddy, standing inches from you didn’t see it coming, and in an instant you’re there, right in the midst of the chaos. Like you threw the door wide and you walked right through into the past, every detail is crystal clear.

Or maybe it’s the part of you that you left behind that opens the door. He opens it from the inside; you didn’t plan on that. But he’s still there, always trying to find his way home, so sometimes he opens the door and peers through, just like you are peering back. If only you could catch his eye, if only you could let him know it’s safe to come through, to come home.

But I’m not sure he can see the future the way I can see the past, because he never got there. He never left those mounds and trenches, so he can’t imagine anything else, worse, he can’t even remember anything else. Well, maybe there are glimmers of memories, or he couldn’t find or open the door. 

When it comes down to it though, it might be that there is only one way we can meet again. That moment when all the doors are flung wide and light floods in, and out. Then we will stand without walls or doors or borders, with all of the fallen, and again be home, again be whole, again be as one.