Our offering of Light

Angel's wings

Angel’s wings (as I was browsing my favorite thrift store, I saw these wings. The woman who works there said, “They fell off the old dolls that came in. You can have them if you want them.” I did.)

I love almost everything about the holidays; buying presents, Christmas music, lights, trees, food, and I feel an optimism and hope about life in general that seems even stronger this year. But at the same time, I remember what I felt like in 1987. It was only my second year of being sober, and my first year of being divorced. My former husband had the kids for that holiday, I was alone, and all of the gaiety of the season just made me feel even more isolated.

As I sat in an AA meeting, trying to feel connected in some way to the rest of humanity (but feeling such a hole inside) a woman named Patty came over to me and said, “If you would like to come to my house tomorrow, I’d love to have you.”

Patty was someone who’d had a nervous breakdown, and spent time in an institution before getting sober. She was very shaky and  had a nervous laugh. She’d come into AA a few years before me and we wouldn’t have dove-tailed socially before getting sober. But she saw right into my heart that day and she noticed that hole, and without making me feel pitiful, she offered the light of friendship. I was totally shocked by her offer. I didn’t realize that others knew what I was feeling. Maybe because she had been in hell too (that dark, lonely, desolate place that I was feeling), she could recognize it.

Of what greater value to the world can we be, than to use the painful experiences of our own lives (the places where we have marched into hell and come out as stronger, wiser, and more compassionate people) to light the way for another?  That is what Patty did for me that day.

So if this holiday season is not feeling joy-filled or comforting to you, then I offer you the light of friendship. Maybe we can’t be together in the same physical space, but we can be together in spirit, and I am here to tell you that you are wanted and loved and that it will get better. Sometimes we are the ones who can shine our lights, sometimes we are looking for the light of someone else to guide us back, but always we need to keep focused on the light.

“I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, …..the light that is already present.” Anne Lamott


40 thoughts on “Our offering of Light

  1. Mary – This is just what I needed to hear this morning. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all the things going on at the moment and not enjoying the holiday “extras”. Thank you for the light of friendship and for refocusing my energy.

  2. Mary, are we not all the walking wounded at times in our lives. I think back many years ago now, to when my late husband died at the age of 39 in June of that year; I was 34 and with two small children. His death was a questionable suicide, not proven, still a question in my mind to this day. My father died three months later, in September. That Christmas was an intrusion into my grief that made all the hoopla around Christmas even more offensive. And in fact, Christmas has never been the same for me since. The empty seats around a table are all the more poignant at this time of year than at any other. Now, just having whatever family I have here for supper is enough of a Christmas for me. And I’d also like to say that in revealing yourself, you are all the more human and reachable to me, thank you for sharing yourself with others here. As a child growing up, I lived with alcoholism in my family. It is an addiction that affects not only those suffering from it but those around them and not an easy one to confront. I’m grateful to my father, who finally was able to deal with it and for the last twenty years of his life, I had a father again. I miss his steady presence in my life, still. So thanks, Mary, we all walk our own paths in life and I think unless you’ve experienced challenges, there is less of an appreciation for others and for ourselves.
    SandyP in Canada

  3. Mary, thank you for this post. I connected to your blog through Jon Katz and I enjoy reading it. But this one is special and timely as I lost my beloved English Setter this weekend. So thank you for your offering of light ~ it has reached one who needed it today.

    • Candy, I am catching up on Mary’s post a day late, but please know I am sending you love and a hug in White Feather Friendship – there are so many animal lovers here, and I think I can speak for the rest of us, we are sending you love and our sympathy as you work through these days of missing your precious English Setter. May all your memories comfort you, – as I am sure you did for your dog all his/her life long. Love from Susan in Arizona

      • Susan, Thank you for your sympathy. I have many lovely memories of my Chelsea ~ she had a long and happy life. Her loss cuts deeply though, and your words touch my heart with light. Candy

    • Candy, I am just getting back to some of the responses and read yours with a heavy heart. Losing a companion animal carries much pain. I wish you acceptance and peace, but only when you can manage to harbor both. Blessings to you.

      • Thank you Suzanne. I am touched by people who have contacted me from this blog. I am new to the idea of blog posts and I am so glad to have been led to this one. What a lovely supportive group you all are. Chelsea was 14 and we shared a good life together. But it can never be long enough with one so loved. Thank you so much for your message. The kind words of others helps ease the pain some.

  4. All I can say is that your post and the comments have brought me to tears. So moving. I am overcome with emotions at the sharing and community that is felt and shared here.

  5. Light the way for another… Mary, you have done just that today. Your words have touched off so many thoughts in me this morning….. pain, loss, regret, happiness, joy, love. It’s comforting to be reminded that we all go through stuff in our lives and while our experiences are uniquely ours, when we share them with others we can find comfort, understanding, and common ground.
    I love your words that sometimes we are the light and other times we are looking for others to be the light…that is going to be printed and hang over my desk for inspiration. love and hugs to you my friend and to all the WFF followers too. Marian
    PS to Sandy P…I had my Dad back for 2 1/2 years before he passed…what a gift that time was. Thank you for sharing xoxo

  6. Dear Mary, your heartfelt and sincere words of love and light touch my soul and uplift my spirit. …not just with this most beautiful post, but each and every morning. Thank you for always being willing to extend your hand of support, love and empathy. You are a talented writer and a most cherished teacher of the power of The Light and your blog has helped to create a special and caring group of people that I consider cherished fellow travelers along this journey of life. Many blessings to you and all the flock!

  7. Between your beautiful post, Mary, and the sharing of the others in the WFF, there is not much I could add. The understanding and compassion toward our human condition is so evident among us here, it makes me weep.

    I gather the emotions brought forth from all here and offer them back to you, turned into the energy of many blessings. All of us have light to offer….even if you don’t know that about yourself. Shine when you can.

  8. What a beautiful, beautiful story today Mary and i relate since I have family members in AA and many times they will have people at their home during the holidays from the rooms that have no place to go and also people who annually stop in on Thanksgiving just to join in the festivities and be welcomed by the family and other
    friends…….its wonderful to open your heart and home when others so desperately are in need.

  9. I have been sitting here just staring out the window since reading your compassionate thoughts this morning. I am feeling so many emotions, some happy, some sad, and they are all swirling around in my heart. As much as I like to let my light shine, and that is always my intent, I sometimes have difficulty receiving…but receiving your light this morning Mary…well, it is just the sweetest day…you write the darkness away…I believe a pair of those Angel wings belong to you sweet friend. I couldn’t love this WFF community more than I do right this very moment. I lift my heart to the light…to everyone’s light…Much love.

  10. What a most beautiful and inspirational way to start the day. The holidays can bring out the worst in us. It’s so easy to spiral out of control. Thank you Mary and thank you all for sharing your stories. There is nothing like kindred-spiritness to help light the way. I love this blog!

  11. Thank you Mary. My mother passed on Christmas Eve and it took me 5 years to celebrate again. Now this is my husbands last Christmas (lung cancer) and I can’t bring myself to even decorate. He says he doesn’t mind. A little light we both can use.

    • Sharon, as Kathe has said, you are enough ‘light’ now for your husband. Just facing this very sad time together may be all that he needs at this time in his life. Thank you for sharing with us and I hope you’ll find comfort here. We’re a diverse but caring lot, I think.

    • Sharon, holding you and your husband close to my heart. It will be a hard Christmas for you but please know you are surrounded with love. Blessings.

    • I have been where you are and it will get better, I promise. I’m sending you light and hugs today, Sharon. You will find that you always have enough strength. With love, Anne

    • Oh dear Sharon, I can only imagine decorating a home with lights is way beyond this moment in time for you and your husband, but maybe try and focus on the Star the led the Wise Men to the Baby Jesus, that kind of eternal Light that we are reminded of at this time of year, the one that shines eternally, beyond circumstance, that is full of hope, and love, and timelessness. Blessings to you both, Sharon.

  12. Perhaps you ‘decorate’, Sharon, with the light of your smile, the touch of your hand, the love in your eyes…the most meaningful decorations of all…sending love, light, and warm thoughts from Vermont to your home.

  13. Some audio and visual about “light.”
    Keep in mind that the first one by Odetta, she thanks Marianne Williamson – it is really Nelson Mandela that needs to be thanked.

  14. This blog is a light that i go to every day. Each and everyone of us values the warmth that we get to when we come here. XX00

  15. Try as I might, I don’t think I will ever truly embrace the ‘Holiday Season’ as its presented. Just about every memory, of every formative year, was wrapped in fear and dread, waiting for the “grand scene” of family drama to commence.
    Just as Jon Katz so eloquently writes of fear as being something to get through and beyond, that’s how I deal with this time of year.

    While I’ll always wonder what a Norman Rockwell holiday might be like, over the years I have at least found a few consolations when I look back. The dark humor and ‘giving the best she had’ when my mother would go to the AA meeting on Christmas eve, sit through the entire sharing so that she could get 3 glazed donuts, wrapped in a napkin to bring home for us kids—before she hit every bar and juke joint in town to ease her pain.

    I truly thank you for the light you offer here. Sometimes it radiates into the deepest recesses that need the most illumination. Blessings to all.

    • Wow, Cheryl, have no idea if you’ll see this as I am catching up, a day late, at the Farm! I thank you for your deep sharing on family matters so tender and painful, things from the past. What is it about this time of year that evokes such joy, but also such bittersweet memories?, – almost like our childhood nerve endings are raw once again? That’s how I feel anyway, and I am so grateful for the glimpses from others that they too, not only have these feelings, but the courage to share them, so that we are all just a bit less disconnected, a bit less fearful, a bit more hopeful. Thank you Cheryl b. – and bless your Mom for doing the best she could. Love, Susan

  16. I too love the Christmas Season and all it brings. Sometimes, I create holiday stress for myself or react to someone else’s. This year my breezeway has become a manger housing four newborn black Lab puppies. So this is “My Puppy Christmas” putting everything else in perspective.

    12/12/12/ – this Wed. is a special day for me, marking 27 years of sobriety. Thank you for sharing yours. Happy Holidays to all in the WFF family.
    With Love & cyber hugs from Mary Rita.

    • There’s room at the inn!! M.R.S.’s puppy manger elicits the sweetest visual for me. Congrats on the auspicious triple 12’s—most special!

  17. Thanks so much for this post Mary. That story could have been told about me. No doubt about it. I’ve been there and now I am so grateful for my life. I have so many gifts. I need nothing for Christmas. I’m all set!
    Faith and love, Cindy

  18. Thank you Mary – once again, your timing is so precise with exactly the right words. My eyes filled with tears (and I’m at work too – dang) and I had to stop myself from breaking down. My problems aren’t that huge, but I let them drag me down (especially around the holidays), so I’m pulling myself together right now and focusing on the good and wondrous things in my life that make it all worthwhile. Thanks for the reminder!

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