Saturday, November 14, 2015

Shine Your Light

Paris is bleeding and my heart is broken.

The beautiful City of Lights is darkened today by tragedy and destructive acts of violence. By black hatred.

There is nowhere on this planet that I have dreamed of more often than Paris ... its sites beckon me. I so long to walk by the Seine, browse the beauty of the Louvre, and sit in a street cafe to watch the artists of Montmatre near that place in Paris most dear to me ... Sacre Coeur. A poster of this white church once held a place of honor in my childhood bedroom.

But today, as I awoke to tales of horror and hate, the beauty of my dream is stained. And my spirit cries out against the senselessness and the cowardly actions of individuals bent on destruction.

When did violence become the answer? When did cruelty become the choice to influence change? And when did killing become an acceptable action to place upon a "to do list"?

There is so much hate surrounding us ... so much intolerance and self-righteousness. So much finger-pointing and condemnation of differences. I am crying as I type and think of parents who have lost children ... and children who must push on without parents. Of the loss of lives in a war of hate that no one is winning. I think of a nation devastated by the echo of bombs and gunshots and wonder what we have come to that this has become so commonplace.

I don't understand. Oh, I realize I am naive. But Please ... someone tell me how we've allowed our difference to become loathing, treatable only by acts of violence and suicide bombers. When did Peace and Cooperation fall victim ... and how did we allow that to happen? What do organizations like ISIS want to create? Or do they seek only to destroy? What do they want us to hear? How did they get to a place where cruelty is mistaken as the only way to create change? Why do they choose Hate?

I don't face such extreme violence. I don't hold onto that kind of Hate. But, I do struggle with the affects of Hatred and Unkindness, like everyone else I'm sure. Mind, the violence I face doesn't compare to what happend on the streets of Paris -- it exists more on an emotional level -- yet it affects me nonetheless. Disdain, dismissiveness or perceived unkindness from others has its affects on my spirit. A thoughtless act or word that that resulted in a breakdown in a relationship or something even worse. I struggle with difficult moments and people who have perhaps blasted holes in my heart. They had their reasons. Their agenda. But my response is a choice. Do I return cruelty for cruelty? Hate for Hate? Am I unkind when someone is unkind to me? Am I self-righteous? And what is the result of my actions?

The other morning as I read my Daily Bread Bible lesson, the writer discussed dealing with difficult people. We all have them ... the people we just don't gel with or the people who we've had a falling out with. People who dislike us because we may have wronged them at one time, unintentionally even. People who we don't see eye to eye with and may never find common ground.

How do we choose to deal with such individuals? With violence and cruelty? By avoiding eye contact and steering clear? By gossip or bullets? By bombs and bloodshed?

After reading this message the other day, I decided to take a different route with someone with whom I've had "issues." I've decided that silence and avoidance are not what I want. That differences are just that and not everyone may be my best friend but I can choose kindness.

See there is beauty in even the most difficult person if we can get past our own issues to discover it. The painful energy they are giving out may be reflective of some deeper pain they are feeling. Perhaps it is something they are struggling with ... a demon of their own which we know nothing about.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

So, after months of silence, I spoke. I initiated contact. I reached out. Twice. I planted the seeds. And, I moved past the past, feeling lighter as the healing energy surged through my spirit. I chose to shine my light instead of hide it under a bushel ... I chose to make peace instead of flame the fire of separation.

Perhaps the play I'm in right now influenced me. For my character personally, it's about forgiveness. Not forgiveness of others, but forgiveness and acceptance of my own self for all my limitations and losses. For me, it's about reaching out and accepting the light and love of others. It's about renewal. It's about discovering that who I am and what I offer is enough ... and beautiful in and of itself. And it's about Shining My Light for others and offering them the same opportunity.

Self-Love. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Wait, that's what I need too. I have much in common with my character of Rose ... 

We spend so much time in the Darkness, judging ourselves and others. Condemning and complaining. Firing bullets -- literal and figurative -- at others to deflate them and lesson them in our eyes. To make us bigger and them smaller. To break them down so we can rise higher.

Today, I shine my light toward Paris. Toward those broken who have chosen hate and those victims of that hate. And I shine my light toward those who may have once hurt me ... or whom I may have inadvertently or even intentionally once hurt. 

My heart bleeds for Paris and all those who have lost in this sea of dark violence shadowing our planet. I pray for peace. I pray we can find a way past this hatred. I pray we can find a way to shine our lights, different as they may be, to create beauty instead of hate.

And I pray that Paris can find its light again ... 
                                                                                                      -- Jenni