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Kindred Contributors of Light

Kindred comes from a combination of kin and the Old English word ræden (“condition”), which itself comes from the verb rædan, meaning “to advise.” — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Talking to a friend about poetry, I mentioned a poem by Li-Young Lee, and paused our phone conversation while she read it, waiting for the payoff when one reacts to great poetry. We do this now and then; find some magic in the world and bring it to light for others to see. We each find our fellow torchbearers by the light they bring to the world. We learn, don’t we, that our light alone is not enough in the darkness? But just as the stars bring light and meaning to the infinite void of the universe, kindred spirits bring hope to us back on earth.

Another poem, discovered in the infinite darkness of social media, drew me to Lee, and I in turn put his work out there that others may see:

So we’re dust. In the meantime, my wife and I
make the bed. Holding opposite edges of the sheet,
we raise it, billowing, then pull it tight,
measuring by eye as it falls into allignment
between us. We tug, fold, tuck. And if I’m lucky,
she’ll remember a recent dream and tell me.

One day we’ll lie down and not get up.
One day, all we guard will be surrendered.

Until then, we’ll go on learning to recognize
what we love, and what it takes
to tend what isn’t for our having.
So often, fear has led me
to abandon what I know I must relinquish
in time. But for the moment,
I’ll listen to her dream,
and she to mine, our mutual hearing calling
more and more detail into the light
of a joint and fragile keeping.

— Li-Young Lee, To Hold

We are co-conspirators, you and I, each kindred contributors of light to the universe. We wrestle with the why, make the most of the how, and reconcile our when. It’s a fragile grip we have on our moment, but our hold feels more secure when the load is shared. Eventually we all must release our hold, but think of the light we might pass along before our torch burns out.

But let’s not talk about fare-thee-wells now
The night is a starry dome
— Joni Mitchell, Carey

Thanks Joni. Yes of course, there’s more: Hope. Meaning. Dreams realized. To be a contributor of light in the face of infinite darkness is to illuminate possibility. To live a full and wonderful life requires the friction of active engagement with all that this world offers us. We must wrestle with thoughts and ideas and opinion and find a greater truth than the myths we were taught to calm us in our moments of doubt. Friction creates a spark that, nurtured, brings light. Here we may warm ourselves in the glow of our potential, realized in this, our moment of fragile keeping.

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