I learned to turn within for wisdom at a young age. Through devoted teachers and practices that kept me close to myself, I learned that the light of understanding rests within the darkness of my own experience. When I moved toward my loneliness, it turned into devotion. When I stopped numbing my pain and breathed with it, it moved through me. I have devoted my life personally and professionally to this wisdom that is so complex and pervasive – wisdom that my Irish ancestors call “the Life of all life.”
When I was growing up, I taped plastic Christmas candles to the windows. They were crowned by bright orange old-fashioned bulbs that would get so hot I could smell them as they pressed up against the purple metal Venetian blinds in my bedroom. As the day turned into evening, I would lay in my bed and watch as the orange light grew brighter. We did not have window sills in our suburban home, so many days were spent taping the neck of these faux candles to the freezing cold windows. Often I would hear a thunk, only to find a fallen candle with its orange shadow spreading out across the floor. I would tape the candle back to the window to the point where there would be three or four layers of tape on the window. As a child, I wanted to make sure that anyone who passed by our windows could glimpse that orange glow. It was a mission that I never gave up on. I have always wanted to share the light that I love so much with others.
I love light – how it shines brighter in the dark and how it warms me and makes things grow. I like to be able to see and make sense of things. I love to feel expansive, like the light of the sun taking up the whole sky, and I love to be seen. I have always felt safer in the light of day than alone in the middle of the night, and, like most of us, I like to know where I am headed. In the light, we can see what is in front of us, so it is easier to get around. Because of this ease of relationship with the light, I privileged it over the dark – valuing expansion over contraction, the fullness of summer more than the starkness of winter, and favoring the reach of a tree over the hidden roots that make the reach possible. I loved the light so much that I lost connection to the dark earth of my body. This has consequences.