Lighting Candles – A Response to Pain and Loss…and Sandy Hook


Sandy Hook Candlelight Vigil“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Motto of The Christophers

When I was a little girl I often was the first one up on Sunday mornings. Surprisingly, while I was waiting for cartoons or other childish entertainments to come on TV, there was an opening to a religious program that never failed to catch my eye. The screen would darken and then a lone candle appear and be lit and the announcer would proclaim the motto of The Christophers, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  Even though I was only a child, it always moved me. It made sense. And I still remember it all these years later.

Last night on The News Hour a number of people from Newtown spoke with Hari Sreenivasan about creating a Coalition for Change.  They don’t want their community to just be one more on a list of places that experienced a mass tragedy, but rather be the town that created something good out of the evil done to it.  How like the Christophers motto!  They wish to a beacon showing us the way to a better future.

Judith Lewis Herman, chair of Clinical Psychology at Harvard, discovered in research into survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and political terror, that people who turn their own trauma, pain, or loss into helping another, or creating a vehicle of change, or into a law protecting others, generally make the best recovery.

As someone who has been a therapist and from my own life experience, I can confirm this is accurate. When I left my job as Director of Family Services I found a perfect farewell gift to give my colleagues to represent the work we had done together.  Just a small magnet but a big message, “Those who light the path for another also light their own path.”  It is true.  Helping others has been my candle and it has always shown me the way.

The Newtown Coalition for Change can be one way to heal their community, and perhaps light the way for our country.

Edmond Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”  Last week for a time the world became a darker, more evil place.  But it does not have to remain that way. Each of us can ignite a spark and light some candle from what happened.

If you need concrete suggestions for how to do this, then find a Salvation Army kettle, or an Angel tree, go to a Domestic Violence program, make a donation, or bring toys or clothes to a homeless shelter, or do one kindness in honor of the Sandy Hook children.  Each of us can make a difference and we can teach our children to make a difference. What a fitting memorial to this tragic event.

It really is “better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” If we all do something, anything, just one little thing, the world can be aglow with a light no darkness can extinguish.

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About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
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