In Celebration of Candlelight and John O'Donohue
In preparation for our departure to Ireland soon, I’ve been reading John O’Donohue’s ANAM CARA: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. Anam Cara means “soul friend” in Gaelic, and isn’t that just beautiful? I love what he writes about light as it pertains to the soul. . . and in some weird, tangential way, it seems relevant to us right now, in dealing with rolling black-outs and in grappling with the dark chaos of our world. I read this to Roy last night as we were going to sleep, the text feels like it’s best served with a whisper:
“There is an unprecedented spiritual hunger in our times. More and more people are awakening to the inner world. A Thirst and hunger for the eternal is coming alive in their souls; this is a new form of consciousness. Yet one of the damaging aspects of this spiritual hunger is the way it sees everything in such a sever and insistent light. The light of modern consciousness is not gentle or reverent; it lacks graciousness in the presence of mystery; it wants to unriddle and control the unknown. Modern consciousness is similar to the harsh and brilliant white light of a hospital operating theater. This neon light is too direct and clear to befriend the shadowed world of the soul. It is not hospitable to what is reserved and hidden. The Celtic mind had a wonderful respect fo the mystery and depth of the individual soul.”
“The Celts recognized that the shape of each soul is different; the spiritual clothing one person wears can never fit the soul of another. It is interesting that the word revelation comes from re-valere, literally, “to veil again.” The world of the soul is glimpsed through the opening in a veil that closes again. There is no direct, permanent, or public access to the divine. Each destiny has a unique curvature and must find its own spiritual belonging and direction. Individuality is the only gateway to spiritual potential and blessing.”
“When the spiritual search is too intense and hungry, the soul stays hidden. The soul was never meant to be seen completely. It is more at home in ta light that is hospitable to shadow. Before electricity, people used candlelight at night. The ideal light to befriend the darkness, it gently opens up caverns in the darkness and prompts the imagination into activity. The candle allows the darkness to keep its secrets. There is shadow and color within every candle flame. Candlelight perception is the most respectful and appropriate form of light with which to approach the inner world. It does not force our tormented transparency upon the mystery. The glimpse is sufficient. Candlelight perception has the finesse and reverence appropriate to the mystery and autonomy of soul. Such perception is at home at the threshold. It neither needs nor desires to invade the temenos where the divine lives.”
That’s a lot of text, but I hope it speaks to you. I hope it offers some small comfort. I hope you feel the warm light of sweet candlelight in your being.
Here’s the news for the next two weekends:
Saturday October 12th: Stacey
Sunday October 13th: Jenn
Saturday October 19th: Stacey
Sunday October 20th: Joseph
And here are two gorgeous and hopefully thought-provoking poems for you:
On a gray day, when the sun has been abducted, and it's chill end-of-the-world weather, I must be the sun. I must be the one to encourage the young sidetracked physicist working his father's cash register to come up with a law of nature that says brain waves can change the dismal sky. I must be the one to remind the ginger plant not to rest on the reputation of its pungent roots, but to unveil those buttery tendrils from the other world. When the sky is an iron lid I must be the one to simmer in the piquant juices of possibility, though the ingredients are unknown and the day begins with a yawn. I must issue forth a warmth without discrimination, and any guarantee it will come back to me. On a dark day I must be willing to keep my disposition light, I have to be at the very least one stray intact ray of local energy, one small but critical fraction of illumination. Even on a day that doesn't look gray but still lacks comfort or sense, I have to be the sun, I have to shine as if sorry life itself depended on it. I have to make all the difference.
Thomas Centolella, Solar
It Is I Who Must Begin
It is I who must begin. Once I begin, once I try -- here and now, right where I am, not excusing myself by saying things would be easier elsewhere, without grand speeches and ostentatious gestures, but all the more persistently -- to live in harmony with the "voice of Being," as I understand it within myself -- as soon as I begin that, I suddenly discover, to my surprise, that I am neither the only one, nor the first, nor the most important one to have set out upon that road.
Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether or not I am lost.
~ Vaclav Havel ~
May “the glimpse be sufficient”.
May we shine for each other.
Enjoy the dance. Enjoy each other. Please dance one for me.