On December 23, 2020

Seeking the light

By Michael Caduto

What a journey we are on together. For some 10 months our lives have been upended by Covid-19, and yet we carry on. In the midst of more than 1.65 million deaths worldwide, including over 313,000 who have lost their lives in the United States (more than 100 in Vermont and rapidly approaching 20,000 throughout New England), much of humankind has come together to muster a global effort to defeat a historic pandemic.

Despite the divisive social and political upheavals that plague our country, millions of people have made great personal sacrifices to help others, from medical staff and emergency personnel, to teachers, food providers and everyone who goes to work each day risking their health, and even their lives, in order to bring us the essentials that we all need to survive this pandemic.

With the solstice Monday, we’re in the heart of winter and the hours of darkness will outweigh day length for some months to come. And so, in the midst of these uncertain times when emotions are roiled, we seek the light wherever we can find it.

Locally, nationally and globally, many people have chosen to shine brightness on the world by helping — however they can — other people and the planet: placing a phone call or sending a caring note in order to reach out to someone who is enduring the pandemic while living alone, braving trips to schools to teach and support children as they try to adjust to their new learning environments, fighting for environmental justice for peoples and communities who bear the heaviest burdens of ecological and epidemiological duress.

We often think of light as something that shines down upon us, but each of us is capable of shedding light by what we think and do — by sharing ideas, creativity, compassion, hope and faith. Supporting a local food shelf. Plumbing the lifestyle disruptions of the pandemic for lessons and actions that we can hold onto for the long term in order to help fight climate change. These are just some of the ways that people are shedding light into the darkness.

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within,” said Maya Angelou.

And yet, the waiting is not easy. The 17th-century theologian Thomas Fuller once said, “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.”

Rays of light are now breaking through as we begin to glimpse the dawn of life after the pandemic. In the months ahead, the light that surrounds us will continue to grow and reflect the flames of compassion and caring that have been lighting the world from within the hearts of those who care.

“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door,” said Emily Dickinson.

Michael J. Caduto is author and co-author of more than 20 books, including “Keepers of the Earth.” He serves as executive director of Sustainable Woodstock, and is the founder/director of P.E.AC.E. — Programs for Environmental Awareness & Cultural Exchange. This commentary was previously published at VTDigger.org.

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