Embodied Intimacy, Transformative Inquiry, Creative Emergence

Light in the Darkness

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 6 comments

Light in the Darkness

This week I have been weeping and also feeling deep joy on behalf of a man in Africa and a young woman from Iraq. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have each won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war in armed conflict. The Nobel Committee commended them both for having “put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims.”

Whatever our feelings about the Nobel Prize, it does have a significant impact. What I am noticing these days is that there has never been so much light shone on this kind of abuse and violence, which has been a part of our human history for so long.

Is this the way that change happens? One courageous human act after another?

I want to tell you that the world
is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

Nadia is a young woman who was captured by ISIS in Iraq and used as a sex slave. She has become a powerful advocate all over the world for human rights, inspired by the terrible ordeal she passed through and survived. She speaks about going to the UN, and how telling her story there was the hardest thing she ever had to do.

In all this darkness there is light. It shines in the form of people like this.

I want you to know that spring
is no small thing, that
the tender grasses curling
like a baby’s fine hairs around
your fingers are a recurring
miracle. I want to tell you
that the river rocks shine
like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death

Denis Mukwege  has been called “the man who mends women ” for the work he and his colleagues at Panzi Hospital have done to treat tens of thousands of women and girls, survivors of rape and sexual violence, which has been used as a weapon of war since conflict began in the east of the DRC in 1995. “I couldn’t imagine that this would be the work I would do, probably for the rest of my life,” he said.

Nor could Nadia imagine what would happen to her and who she would become. We are living in wild and dangerous times, critical times. Times full of darkness and brutality. And also light. We are not in charge of our lives. They move and flow inside something that remains a great mystery.


I want to remind you to look
beneath the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you
are no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
“a great and common tenderness”,
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.

Where there is darkness there is also light. I give thanks for this, again and again. And I pray that each one of us finds a way to bring our own light into this world. It may be in ways that seem small, but they are not. The truth of our interconnection has never been more obvious. What I think, what I feel, what I do, ripples out into the vast web of life we live and breathe in. And it’s the same, my dear friend, with you.

The poem is ‘Testimony’, by Rebecca Baggett.

with love,



Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Leo Sofer

    ooh, that’s gorgeous, Shayla. I’m so liking how you wove the poem so powerfully in with the article. That’s very inspiring and makes me want to do more of that in my own blogs, weaving a story in with some writing. Wonderful. Thank you.

  2. Michelle Wilsdon

    wondrous words
    winding light into wounds
    wrapping wrongs in wonderful


    I want to thank you for offering your writing and gifts into the world, a part of offering yourself into the world, drawing attention to what matters.

  4. Julie Seibt

    I am touched by your words, ever more inspired to open to and share this Mystery of Love. Thank you.

  5. Charon Hunniford

    and I also found myself weeping this morning amidst a semi-crowded cafe. Why … the music of John Lennon words ”’give peace a chance” stirred much movement years ago and today they still cause me to recognize my greatest yearning.. Thankfully we have the ”’Mukweges”’ and ”’Murads”’ leading the way!! May we all be blessed with the strength of a peaceful mindset.

  6. Candace

    Thank you Shayla. This very much echoes my own journaling this morning. And many mornings! So many of us singing songs of praise, and songs of loss and alarm.

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