Let There Be Light

Lessons from my Dogs,
Let there be Light

                Lighthouses don’t go running all over looking for boats to save; they just
         stand there shining.
                                                           -- Anne Lamott

Early morning light fills the room. It comesin through the windows, clear and
bright. New light, gray light, as transient as life. As it settles into corners and chairs, the
little dogs follow its warmth.

Raised by a mother who always noticed the light, my siblings and I, too, have
long worshipped this ineffable friend. This time of year in particular calls for special
celebrations of Light: the Solstice, the Evening Star, even the glittering of artificial lights.
I have always loved the December holiday season, while many abhor it…the
commercialism and forced giving of gifts, no doubt. Nearly every Christmas, a special
carol or piece of music makes its way serendipitously into our quiet home and into my
heart. This year it was Libera nos, salva nos sung by the Cambridge Singers and directed
by John Rutter. As three sleeping dogs lay curled in dog balls and the glow of the salt
candles blended with the white lights, casting an aura of calm across the room, I heard
that piece for the first time and it filled me with something greater than joy, more deep
than peace. Infinite love perhaps. When I looked to see which CD it was, the cover read
Lighten Our Darkness, and revealed a photo of three burning candles in some
Romanesque church chancel on some European shore.

In Hamlet, Shakespeare speaks of, “Thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls.”
There are many moments that touch us like that brief moment touched me, which lie
beyond words but let us know we’re alive.

The ending of one long phase of the Mayan calendar on December 21st, the
Solstice, and the beginning of the next phase brought subtle and not so subtle shifts to
many people I know. We all seek light, whether metaphorically in the embodiment of
enlightenment or literally on the sun-baked sands of Caribbean islands.

 My dogs, as usual, are miles ahead of me. Seeking the little sunspots throughout
the house as the sun arcs across the sky, they’ve been following the light their whole lives
long. They are infused with light; they live in the light, not only following the sunlight
around our house but also living in the lightness of not worrying, the lightness of living
wholly in the moment. I now seek my own light—that which fills me with joy and that
which resides within, my own inner light.

Perhaps we’re all become lighter. We’re made of light (just think of that…we’re
made of the same elements as the stars!) and we can choose to let our thoughts be light.
There is that old joke, “Why can angels fly? Because they take themselves lightly.”

But when we look at the human species we may not always see angelic behavior.
Individually we may feel we are deeply flawed and yet no matter how broken we feel, the
light is always there. “There is a crack in everything,” Leonard Cohen sings, “that’s how
the light gets in.”

Perhaps enlightenment is no more than that, letting the cracks just
be and letting the light shine through, for sometimes when we feel our most fragile are
we also able to be our most compassionate, shining light on others.

In the late afternoon a parallelogram of light stretches across our floor. It seeps in
through the window, gentle and golden, and bathes our small home in its warmth.
Together with the woodstove, the candles and the Christmas lights, I feel its whispered
benediction. It is always there. And there too is a little clump of dogs, the three of them,
lying together in the last of today’s soft light.

Kay Pfaltz is a writer and animal activist. Profits from books are donated to animal
welfare organizations. www.kaypfaltz.com. Kpfaltz@cstone.net.