Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and the first night of Hanukkah—a time to light candles of hope to light the darkness. This is the darkest time of the year. The nights grow longer until the winter solstice on December 21st. And this is a dark time in our world today, with Covid, political discord, anxiety, and confusion all around us.
Yet each of us can light candles in the darkness. In my church, we used to stand in a circle holding small white candles. One person would light a candle, then use that candle to light the one held by the person standing next to them until gradually, the whole chapel was filled with a circle of light.
Lately, on dark mornings when it's hard to get out of bed, I've been practicing a new meditation, creating a circle of light to begin my day. In a practice inspired by Buddhist teacher John Makransky (2007), I recall my many benefactors—those individuals who have brought love and light into my life. I think of my grandmother, my Aunt Norine, my dear cousins Norma and Jerry, my first dog Cinder, my best friends in high school, college, and grad school, the kind professor who saw my potential, my friends and loved ones today, and people whose lives have inspired me.
Encircled by the light, and realizing that I'm not alone, I begin my day grateful for the love and light that has graced my life.
You can create your own circle of light in this brief meditation.
- Take a few moments now to close your eyes.
- Breathe slowly and deeply, focusing your attention on your heart .
- Now think of someone—a friend, family member, even a beloved pet—who has brought the light of love into your life. This can be someone from the past or someone you know now, for all are eternally present in your heart.
- Breathing in, see the light increase as you think of this benefactor, and then the next.
- Notice how you are feeling as the circle of light increases.
Then when you're ready, gently open your eyes, realizing that you are never alone, and that you can share and expand this circle of light throughout your day.
I wish you greater light and joy on the path.
Makransky, J.(2007). Awakening through love: Unveiling your deepest goodness. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.