the power of our light
Last Friday, an eighth grade boy took his life. It was the second suicide in a month at the same school.
My son was having his 13th birthday party when a mom called and told me the news. She wanted to get to me before the information flew through social media channels to her son, who was in my basement and who was friends with the boy who died.
Within a minute of hanging up, I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. My son walked into the room, stunned face and searching voice, “Mom–another kid committed suicide.”
He was in shock. As were all eight boys at the party, ages 12-14, including two who went to the same school as the two boys who lost their lives within a month of each other.
In that moment, I didn’t know what to do. I was stuck to my chair, my mind whirring, processing, wanting to weep thinking of that boy’s pain, thinking of those parents who lost their son.
Knowing I needed to do something, I walked downstairs and into a room of bewildered eyes, pacing, hugging, and shock. I turned off the TV, sat down, and asked what they needed.
“He was my friend.”
“I slept over at his house.”
“I can’t believe it.”
“He’s in my advisory!”
“I want to call my mom.”
As each kid in my basement experienced and processed this information in different ways, I stood there, trying to hold a space as they dealt with the gravity of it.
I’ve thought a lot about it since, about that boy, about how there are people–kids and adults–who are suffering among us, people we see every day and have no idea what they are experiencing inside their hearts.
We have all been there–inside moments of darkness, of depression. It is horrible and lonely. But we live in a culture where we do not wear our emotions on our sleeves, we do not post our moments of suffering.
So no one knows.
It makes me wonder–why do we hide our suffering from one another? What if we opened up and talked about times we feel depressed? Then when another person feels the intense loneliness of that emotion, they know they are not alone or abnormal.
We are powerful in our capacity to give light. We can give it every day, toward every single person we encounter. We can do this by genuinely smiling at people, by demonstrating kindness and teaching our kids to treat all beings with kindness and respect, and by knowing and teaching the difference between standing by and standing up.
We can reach out and say, “Are you ok?” or “Can I help?” or “I love your hair.”
We can notice the people around us. We can care.
We have an immense amount of power within. And our power is simple. We can lift someone with our words. As well, we can crush spirits with our words. Are we mindful of how we use our power?
When we give our light, love and hope to everyone we encounter, we grow our hearts and the heart of the world.
That is power.