Oooh, things are getting dark out there – and I’m not even talking about the election! Once we moved the clocks back last weekend, we got the early, dark days again. I love this time of year. It’s when I am the most productive. I like to do most everything in natural daylight - cook and photograph my efforts, email, read, and write. Once I have to turn a lamp or a light on, it’s a signal my day is done and I tend to turn on the television or get lost online in some news feed. (Productivity over.) So with the seemingly shorter days, I’m more motivated to get my work done early or to be outside and enjoy the sun since her hours are numbered too.
I’ll be honest, I’ve had a Lantern Bearers blog post in me for months. I’ve been a long time Maxfield Parrish fan and this summer I was fortunate enough to see this original Lantern Bearers painting in person at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas! I save thoughts and images, quotes, and observations for just the right time to post. This week seemed like the perfect time to share it with you. I’m not going to tell you that everything is going to be okay or that we need to respect one another’s choices. I’m simply going to suggest looking for the lantern bearers and seeking out the light in our lives during these times.
Watching the news, reading the news, and listening to the commentary on the news isn’t providing very much light in my life. I’ve had to seek it out. A positive thought, a positive image, or a good memory provides a small gap in the steady stream of the horrible things being reported around the world. We don’t have control over the dark actions, thoughts, or words of another, but we can protect our own light and let it shine for others.
I’ve thought a lot about the lantern bearers in my life – those that give me hope and remind me how good things are despite what I may be facing in the present moment. My Dad is one that provides a great deal of light. We talked for nearly an hour the other night digging up old stories and memories. It’s amazing when he gets to talking about the good stuff of the past and completely loses sight of the notsogreat day he might be having. And that was the lesson, if you go back far enough into your treasure chest of good memories, you can find something that gives you hope again. It reminds you what is possible. It was a very welcome break to not mention politics or the news even once!
Another lantern bearer of mine has been a secret source of light. In fact, I had to ask his mom if I could share some of his little wisdoms. She didn’t know that I’ve been collecting their conversations and referring back to them when I needed a lift. So there is a thing on Facebook where people will compose a script of a conversation to relay what has just been said. Many are between child and parent, which are hilarious and sweet. A few years ago, one of my friends got married and I met her childhood friends at the wedding – I honestly can’t remember the specifics, I just recall making Facebook connections with a lot of the bride and groom’s family and friends. Marnie was one of them, and she posts conversations with her children often on Facebook. She could write a book!
I started taking screenshots of these little scripts as they came up in my news feed to keep in my phone so I could have access to the hilarious and sweet exchanges. Marnie's son Pax is my personal hero and shines so much light into my life. I think he and I are kindred spirits. The ancient Chinese used to catch fireflies, put them in the cages or holed containers and used them as lanterns. I’ve collected the hopeful observations of this kindergartner – whom I’ve never met – and I use them as a lantern to brighten my darkness. I offer the lantern to you to shine a bit of light if you're struggling these days.
- Pax: Thank you for birthing me.
- Me: You're welcome... What prompted that?
- Pax: I'm just having a great life!
- Pax: Some people teased me about my tutu today.
- Me: I'm sorry. Did it hurt your feelings?
- Pax: Yeah but I upstanded for myself since no one was an upstander for me. Sometimes you just have to uspstand for yourself!
- Pax: We learned about empathy today. Empathy is when you think about how someone else is feeling.
- Me: That's right!
- Pax: Having empathy is hard. It makes me sad sometimes. But I like having empathy because it also helps me have so much love.
- Pax: Mom, do you ever get the feeling of complete happiness. Like nothing can bring you down?
- Me: Sure... What makes you feel that way?
- Pax: Like when I think about how much I love you... What makes you feel that way? Well... Besides wine.
- Leo: Trump won? What will happen to us?
- Me: The reality is that little will change for our family day to day. That is called privilege. But it will change for many people. And it is our job to help them.
- Pax: So it's our job to be the best upstanders we can be!
- Pax: Let's talk about what we want to change in the world. I want to change that no one is a stranger and no one is a bad guy. And everything tastes like chocolate!
I know it’s not easy to bear the lantern for others. I know our wicks get low. It’s important that we keep looking for the light though, even if we’re unable to provide it for ourselves or someone else. (It's also important that we look for opportunities to UPstand for ourselves and others too!)
Leonard Cohen’s lyric from his song Anthem has been a favorite. I know you’ve all heard and read it a lot this week with his passing. I think it bears repeating.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
One of my lanterns this week has also been this little orange pumpkin. I got it from my CSA a few weeks ago and left it out in our living room for decoration. It has glowed and brought a sweet light. I had a request for pumpkin soup from a client and finally roasted him. Now she’s got some of his light in her life.
Pumpkin Soup With Apple
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups roasted pumpkin, cubed or mashed
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup peeled, cored, and chopped apple
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 5 cups vegetable broth
Heat oil in a large dutch open or soup pot. Add everything to the pot, stirring. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until. Remove from heat, cooling slightly. Purée with a handheld stick blender or pour into a regular blender. Taste for seasoning. I garnished mine with dried cranberries and scallions.