We arrived by bus in Paris on a Friday in the late afternoon. It was June. The temps were in the mid 70’s and the air was stagnant. The smell of Spring in the air. Not the beautiful flowery spring smelling of lilacs and tulips. No, it was the dirty musty wet mud smell. The kind that reminds you that winter was still packing its bags, but the dank darkness of the icy cold was giving way to hope and warm sunny days.
Three tour busloads of American teenagers spilled out in front of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris like ants out of a disturbed anthill. We had just spent two hours crammed in these giant high end metal transport tubes traveling through the yet to awaken French countryside. We would be spending 3 glorious days touring this famed city and we were overtly excited to get to the exploring! The first stop, Notre Dame, and all the beauty that the famed architecture provided. It was beyond anything most of us had ever seen.
Evening was setting in, and the group was scheduled for a dinner cruise on the Seine river. Herded on to three large boats, we sat at fancy set tables, all with clear views out the windows. On our way out I had the best views of the Louvre, Le Grand Palais, and the Eiffel Tower. How regal an majestic it all was!
Evening had turned to night, and darkness had fallen upon this historic city. No worries though, as our boats were equipped with massive rows of lights, flooding the surrounding riverbanks with their neon beams. On the return trip, my views of the city were not so resplendent. With the boat now turned the other way, back to our point of origin, I now faced the famed walls that rose up from the riverbed. Filled with romantic couples striding the walkways by day, they were eerily empty at night. As we looked closer, we discovered why they were so. As the floodlights from our boat approached, we watched as rats the size of house cats scurried away from the light to the safe dark sewer tubes that lined the walls. Hundreds of them, afraid of what the light might mean for them would pack away into the sewers. And then, as the boats sailed away, and the harsh bright lights faded from their area, the rats would re-emerge back into the darkness. They were once again safe, in their rat minds, to do their scavenging in the refuge of the shadows.
We see the reports from Paris today. We hear of the terror in Beirut, in Kenya, and Baghdad. Not again! Not more innocent people being done in by hate, anger, animosity, revenge. We turn and remember all the dark times, and all the grim acts that have occurred. We ourselves begin to feel an eruption of rage or hate build up on our bodies. HOW DARE THEY!!!
Allow yourself to feel whatever sadness or fear, or whatever it is you need to feel in the moment of this hurt. But I will challenge you to let it ground you in the commitment to not be or be in the darkness.
I challenge you to stand and Be the Light
Our world desperately needs your light! I wholeheartedly need to see your light and love shine over the darkness. In this world, there will always be rats. We simply will never get rid of them, our history proves that. But it is with your light, love and kindness we will always make a difference! How many times has your day been totally turned around by one small act of kindness, a smile, an unexpected compliment? I challenge you to do the same.
I will chose to be the light as much as I possibly can be. I have no idea whose life I may touch at any given moment as I walk in this world. I can only hope that as a beacon of light, I am able to touch someone who can then see, and come out of the darkness and then do the same for others. THIS is how we transform the world!
So, today, I am not going to try and make sense of the deeply rooted hate and fear that lives in the darkness. Today, I will be the neon beam of light that sends the rats back into the sewers, and helps those trapped in the darkness to see their way out. You have that power too!