I'd cleared my schedule for today in case I was still jurying. Luckily, I was released yesterday afternoon, and it has been absolutely lovely having some time for quiet contemplation and creation on this beautiful Wednesday. I walked Percy, leisurely on a new route; I raked and watered, tidying what I easily could. I took some photographs, and not quickies. No, the ones that are constructed and thoughtful and take a bit of effort over time. I picked some fresh jalapeños, blackened them in a stove-top flame and diced them finely for the peppery plum jam in which I wanted to use my bushel of pluots.
The light is perfect today. I feel lucky to have no distractions right now, for that means I can notice and treasure all that gleams and glows around me. You can see it in those just-cut pluots, light shining like diamonds in the glistening flesh. You can see it in the incandescence of the leaves attempting to obstruct the sun's rays; their underbellies radiate an ethereal green light that seems gently aflame. You can see it when it catches on dust motes floating softly through the air, their impact an ephemeral sparkle that you're certain was there, but it disappeared so quickly that you wonder.
The light that comes to us, that we see and take in, that promotes growth and warmth, is an enormous gift. But there is another sort of light, equally important and to be treasured.
Before my boys began attending a Quaker school, I was not familiar with the concept of the light within. I mean, I knew of soul and spiritual centers and such, but I'd never heard our inner selves expressed in terms of light. I love this concept, and I love the way it guides the teaching and interactions with my children, and all children, at their school. The teachers look for the light in each child, knowing it will be unique and that its presentation might be challenging or simple, tough to find or near the surface. They treat each child's light with such respect, seeking to both honor and make it familiar to the child as they gently guide its shape and expression.
This concept is very much in line with the inarticulable philosophy I had, before my kids were born, about how I wanted to appreciate and raise them. I wanted to celebrate the individuals they were but concurrently help them become their best selves. Watching this practice in action -as I see teachers unearth and celebrate that within each child- and learning how to speak of a child's self as his light within has given me a much greater facility for and appreciation of this Quaker tenet. It inspires and humbles me regularly, it gives me hope when things seem dim, it makes me a better parent.
I feel bathed in light today, that from without and from others' withins. And I am grateful.
Yesterday afternoon was one of those that wore like an overly tight shoe strap. One of my children was the strap, and by bedtime, I was a raw, ragged blister. He was funked out about everything, and though I felt I handled him terrifically-even likening his behavior to a piece of poop which he thought was hysterically awesome, by the way- I felt utterly tattered by the time I shut his door for the third (but not the last, as time would show) time.
In the midst of his negotiations, ploys, pleas, questions, complaints, demands, whining, obstinacy and insistence that he was not tired and could not sleep, I found it extremely difficult to see any light inside of him, much less want to. I wanted to snuff that little guy out. I wanted him to be quiet and leave my alone and to stop pushing, pushing, pushing. Why do kids keep at it so strenuously when the feedback isn't good? "Enough!" I wanted to yell. But I didn't (though of course I have before, so don't think I'm that zen).
I looked at my little guy who was so desperately tired but trying not to be. I tried harder to see a flicker of his light, and I did. I hugged him tight, told him I loved him and firmly said it was time for bed. Because, you know, we have to acknowledge and honor our own lights too.
And he slept and I slept, and today is bright.