Small Things, Everyday Deeds, Ordinary Folks, and The Darkness at Bay

Another mass shooting incident. I thought: “what a dark world to wake up to.” The urge was to curtain off and shut it out. Lay the blame on their social order, the easy access to guns, the numbing violence, flawed ideologies, or raving madness.  Sigh and lament the loss of life and a world gone mad, and then go about my day like clockwork.

Over crepes and coffee, a friend sketched out to us the LGBT world, a realm we don’t see or are too indifferent to see. We listened in surprise and shock. There’s another side to the world we live in: cloaked; with those living in the fringes; a vast chasm from my brightly-lit home. Once again, sigh and lament, and then arrive home to the safe space of this bright screen.

Heinous crimes and shadowy worlds: they loom large but stay veiled and far removed from me that I can stay put, carry on being and life goes on.

Because how do I, quite sheltered in a brightly-lit home, fix a broken world? My home has 5 damaged bulbs and a leaking roof. Today my 11-year-old had to wear tight shoes to school because once again, I forgot to buy her a new pair. Already, it is broken, it is imperfect, it is flawed where I live.  How can I dare fix what’s outside my door?

The world is so damn big; I am utterly helpless. I can choose to stay small.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

How can I shut it out, look the other way, pretend humanity shooting humanity never happened?  This is our world. It is the world of heinous crimes, the world of shadows, the world where fear is bent on conquering all.

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Photo: Getty

But what am I to do, when the world shifts and it shifts in epic proportions and I am the small, helpless spectator who only wakes up, attends meetings, and sips coffee while she writes? Who is responsible for healing the death of humanity, the separateness, the ungodliness?  Pray tell, what is good, what is evil?  What ails the world? Where is the Holy Grail?

Should I begin championing LGBT rights, or take up arms against arms? I don’t know how to do that. I will be lost in that world. I do not know how to fight a war.

What I do know is write, raise my children with soul, care for the land and earth, and channel this unmerited grace to words about wonder, and compassion, and goodness.  And while I can’t be on the streets wearing rainbow colors or waging war, I can in my teensy-weensy world of white screens and brightly lit homes, paint the rainbow too.

And perhaps this is all we are called to do?  This is our quest for the holy grail. Pull off small feats where you are planted, where you are called, and where your work finds roots or sprouts wings.  Not in Congress lobbying for equal rights or a gun policy (unless that’s what you do best) but in lobbying for run-of-the-mill, ordinary, everyday lives that are true, beautiful and good. That we wake up, walk the earth, and in the middle of our own roads, shine our souls. Be shafts of light in shadowy places. We are in a position to make ripples; however minuscule that first drop will be. Not to fix the entirety of this immense world, but its pieces, those parts within our reach.

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Picture: Reuters

We can choose fear, and stay small. Close the shutters, stay home, staring at the virtual white screen. “Shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.” Leave the world to the hands of fate and shadows.

Or we can have a hand in the unfolding of this shifting world.  Show up. Shine our soul. Channel grace. However unremarkable a role, however ordinary, however meagre in scale.  You are: a lawyer; a farmer; a mother; you paint imaginary worlds; you build thriving businesses from nothing; you’re a magician in the kitchen; numbers bend to your will; people love you and will follow where you go. What is your genius?  What superpower or even uncanny mutation, have you been blessed with? There is work to fulfil, transforming and healing to be made. We are needed and we could be a beacon, a firelight, a blaze in times like these.

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AP Photo/David Goldman

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.” J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

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