I have a dear friend who is often housebound by one of those horrible autoimmune diseases. She told me that once in desperation, she cried out to God, “What can I do for you, I can’t even leave the house?” God answered, “Be a sunflower.” The image of being a sunflower, of turning your face toward the light of God is beautiful and doable. She thought, I can do that!
Poet Mary Oliver, in her poem, The Buddha’s Last Instruction, suggests the Buddha’s last words were, “Make of yourself a light.” Mary Oliver’s poem is about the sun coming up and filling the land with light. In one stanza she writes,
“And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire –
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.
The light does this to us. It shines on us, in us, hanging and healing us, so that, as the Buddha says, we can be a light to others.
John Donohue, a beautiful writer, and prayer of the Celtic tradition of Christianity wrote,
“May the light of your soul guide you. May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart…May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, and renewal to those who you work with and to those who see and receive your work.”
When Quakers pray they say, “I’ll hold you in the Light.” I think that is beautiful.
It seems clear to me that our job is to be a sunflower, turning our face to the light of God’s love. As God’s love fills us, it guides us, blesses our work with love and warmth. Then, it does as the Buddha suggests, it makes a light of love and healing to a hurting world.
How have you experienced the light? How does light flow through you to others?