My one year old is enamored with sunlight. Often he watches it fall through the window into a patch upon the floor or illuminate dust particles floating in the air. Carefully, he tries to pick up the light, but instead his fingers find the more tangible qualities of wood or wall or window pane. The light eludes him, and yet he is content to sit and savor it.
On a warm afternoon, while my family traverses one of the myriad country roads in the Shenandoah Valley, I find my hand eager to slice through air breezing past the open car window. I suddenly feel like a child again, trying to grab sunlight. As soon as my palm flickers as brightly as a firefly, I close my hand like a snare. But, the enclosing fingers cast shadow where light should be. And instead of illumination, I seem to only grasp at more murky questions.
Do you feel that way, friend? Is it difficult for you, too, to filter the light from the shadow of life? The dappling of both gives deeper meaning to the other. I yearn for the constance of joy and peace and hope, but I'm cognizant that these are more richly experienced when there is perseverance through the asperity that life proffers. In moments like these, the greater fear is the creeping in of apathy.
Frederick Douglass, a 19th century abolitionist and orator, urged his brethren: "Be prayerful - be brave - be hopeful" (September 5, 1850: "A Letter to the American Slaves From Those Who Have Fled From American Slavery"). This line from the newspaper, The North Star, reflects the sentiments in Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer," which is one of my favorite inspirations. Human atrocities are unsettling. We see examples of them every day in newspapers, podcasts, tweets and posts, and personal conversations, so much so that they become paralyzing. In such times, we must look beyond ourselves and our personal biases to those who have experienced far greater hardships and chosen to walk a path of dignity and hope. In so doing, we're allowing sunlight to shine where we least expect it. It's a light that can elucidate those murky questions better than our own limited understandings. May today be such a day of clarity for all of us.
SENK is an artist and writer in the Shenandoah Valley. The blog, 52 Weeks, is an ethical contemplation on the importance of choosing to keep public school names that are not divisive. Each post is based on over seven years of research by the author. 52 Weeks is a compassionate appeal to community and school board members to not revert to the names of Confederate leaders for Shenandoah County, Va, public schools.