After the long, harsh winter here in Dharamsala, I’ve been ever more delighted by the signs of spring over the past month or so. First the tender green leaves began yawning and stretching out, then the birds started singing earlier in the mornings, then rumbling thunder and soothing rain at night brought forth lush greenery, then the flowers started exploding: pink, orange, red, yellow, and white, then the freezers in neighborhood stores started filling with ice cream… 🙂 I can’t help but welcome it all with a huge smile and a sigh of relief. The picture below is from my favorite walk out in the fields, which is always rejuvenating.
Recently we attended a lamp-lighting ceremony at the local Tibetan nunnery. We lit hundreds of yak butter lamps in honor of someone who had passed away. As dusk fell, the reflections of these several hundred lamps in the glass windows on all sides continued to grow brighter, until it felt like we were at the center of many distant reflections, like little cities filled with light. The darker it became, the more the lights stood out and multiplied beyond my field of vision. That experience, along with the joyful coming of spring, have filled me again with hope that prevents me from getting bogged down in the brokenness of so many things in the world: divided families, unjust systems, battered values, a polluted environment, and most importantly, broken hearts. Too often I am confronted by a sight such as a river clogged with trash, or a small child begging all alone, or hear a story about a husband drinking and beating his wife, and I feel hopeless about the inability to do anything to change the situation in the long-term. I even feel anger welling up inside at those who perpetrate or contribute to the brokenness– such as the men who daily reinforce mind-boggling patriarchy in India. However, the small signs of spring and the illuminating experience of the yak butter lamps have challenged me to pay attention to the tiny things I can do to bring hope, and to believe that adding one little light can produce reflections we may never see. This hope insists that slowly but surely, love will prevail…no matter what season.
A friend of mine shared a wonderful poem by Merle Shain that moved me to write about all this, so I’ll pass it along here, too.
“It is better to light candles
Than to curse the darkness.
It is better to plant seeds
Than to accuse the Earth.
The world needs all of our power
And love and energy.
And each of us has something
That we can give.
The trick is to find it and use it.
To find it and give it away.
So there will always be more.
We can be lights for each other,
And through each other’s illuminations,
We will see the way.
Each of us is a seed
A silent promise
And it is always spring.”