February 10th, 2024
Just recently my family slid into home base after two months of winter festivities that started at the beginning of December and ended at the end of January. For our family going from Advent (anticipation of the coming of Light into the darkness) through the journey of The Magi (seekers of Light and Love surrounded by Wisdom), our candlelit home felt magical to me. There were also electric lights that went on our tree, in windows and other places. Now the candles are snuffed (well most of them) and the lights unplugged. Yet, are we not all still seeking light, levity and love in our lives!
Today, February 10, is the Lunar New Year, and just over a week ago, we held our breath as we watched with anticipation to see whether the groundhog would see his shadow foretelling how much longer until Spring arrives. On that same day, February 2, some still celebrated the festival of Candlemas, blessing our dear beacons of light that we put on our tables and other places to offer flickering reminders of stillness, peace and joy.
We still want to penetrate the darkness with light-filled meaning, purpose and integrity. With so much cultural dissonance pervading our conventional news streams and political climate, what can we do individually to create cracks where the light can come in? It reminds me of the refrain in Leonard Cohen’s famous “Anthem”: “There is a crack, a crack in everything; That’s how the light gets in.”
With so much cultural dissonance pervading our conventional news streams and political climate, what can we do individually to create cracks where the light can come in?
Here is a link to the full lyrics: Lyrics for Anthem by Leonard Cohen – Songfacts.
And it also brings to mind one of my all-time favorite songs by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays, who were concerned with overcoming racism, inequality and violence. Here is a link to hearing it sung by Trini Lopez: Trini Lopez – If I Had A Hammer (1963) – HD (youtube.com)
When I focus on how the three items in that song (hammer, bell and a song) are then related to justice, freedom and love, it brings tears to my eyes. These three beautiful aspects of striving to be our best selves have somehow been usurped by narratives that create dissonance between us. “Justice” has become something that is “served”, that lives in the realm of good guy/bad guy. It seems the way to uplift part of the population is by creating accusations and venom toward another part of the population. Whereas, if justice were more strongly related to freedom, would we not want it to apply to everyone? To bring forward those for whom freedom has not been allotted while striving to educate and awaken those who have historically been withholding those freedoms? Rather than a hammer that harms, let us find those hammers that help to repair and restore.
In the song the bell is referred to as the “bell of freedom”. I remember viewing one of the replicas of the Liberty Bell on a trip with my dear friend and colleague, the late Rena Osmer, an amazing Waldorf early childhood teacher. We were both struck with a deep sense of reverence. And, of course, what seems to have propelled this bell to fame is that it is cracked.There it is again – the crack that lets the light get in or, in this case, that shifts the resonance of the ringing, to remind us that freedom is not something to take for granted. It is, however, something to protect, to honor, and to spread – not through violence and dissonance but through love (infused with forgiveness).
Which brings us to the last aspect in the song – “a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land”. When love, open-hearted, open-minded love, is the foundational principle applied to justice and freedom, we may begin to feel a sea-change in how we meet one another. Within the six supplementary exercises offered by Rudolf Steiner to accompany Buddha’s Eightfold Path, there are three that can help us to find our way to this transformative love. They are equanimity, open mindedness and positivity.
When love, open-hearted, open-minded love, is the foundational principle applied to justice and freedom, we may begin to feel a sea-change in how we meet one another.
As we continually seek the Light, friends, may we simultaneously exude the light that has been let in through our own biographical cracks.
Blessed Lunar New Year to all!