Illuminating the World


A few days ago, I ran across a quote from a woman named Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, a Sufi mystic who lived until 801 C.E. She is said to have told a religious man that he should “be like wax and illumine the world and burn yourself. ”

That advice reminded me of Hannah Senesh, a Hungarian-Israeli Jew who was trained by the British Army and then parachuted into Nazi territory during WWII to try to save Jews from deportation to concentration camps. After landing in enemy territory, 22-year-old Senesh wrote this poem:

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake.
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

After those two quotes, I can’t help but note the recent passing of Nelson Mandela — a man who was a beautiful example of what it means to struggle against injustice and illuminate the world.

And then there’s the upcoming third anniversary of my Granny’s death . . . a woman who didn’t save a nation and won’t be quoted for centuries, but she illuminated my world with her steadfast unconditional love.

Illuminating the World
–by standing up to all forms of injustice
–by “shedding light” on an unaddressed problem
–by giving unconditional love
–by being willing to give of yourself to help others, whether at the price of your own life or just temporary, minor inconvenience

Illuminating the world is not a value that belongs to any one nation or any one religion. Bringing Light was the goal of the Buddha, of Jesus, of every mystic from every faith, of Gandhi, of Martin Luther King, Jr., of the Dalai Lama, of Pope Francis . . . the list could go on and on . . .

And yet, injustice continues:
–there are still people who lack life’s basic necessities
–there are still children who don’t know unconditional love
–there are still people being abused by others in their own homes
–there are still people being wrongly accused, held captive, and tortured
–there are still people bring taught to hate others based on skin color, religion, gender, etc.
–there are still far too many dark places in our World that need to be illuminated.

I’m not suggesting any of us quit our jobs, or abandon our families, or find a cause to literally die for . . . but . . . what if each of us found just one small way each week to bring a little more light to a dark place that we see in our part of this world that we all share?

We may not achieve world peace or be mourned by the entire world when we die. But, to the people whose lives are impacted by the darkness, the light we bring could be just as important as my Granny’s light and love still are to me, and that, my friends, would be nothing short of miraculous.

2 thoughts on “Illuminating the World

  1. I know this sounds cliche but I really do believe that she lives on through everyone you touch…and that’s a lot of people with minds that are opening up!

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