I’m going to admit something I’m not proud of. I hadn’t watched the video of Philando Castile’s death until right now. Did you all see it? I bet most of you did, but I avoided it. Why? Because I knew there was a little girl in the backseat, and that if I watched the video, I would have to see her frightened face. Adults facing horror is bad enough, but a child… my computer crashes. Yet this morning, after all that has happened… so much death already in the news, and now innocent adults and children murdered on the streets of France…somehow I knew it was time to face the music, put my big girl pants on, and look into this little girl’s eyes.
I held it together for most of the video, but when I got to the end, I started to lose it. Castile’s incredibly calm girlfriend is in the backseat of a police car when she finally screams out in anguish. We see her daughter’s lovely face, a 4 year old named Dae’Anna, and what does Dae’Anna say?
“It’s all right Mommy, I’m here with you.”
I cried. Not only because of all the tragedy I witnessed in that video, but because Dae’Anna touched me so.
This tiny child just watched a horror unfold before her eyes, but when her mother can’t keep it together anymore, she doesn’t scream or cry or even whine. She let’s her mother know that she’s there for her… that everything is going to be okay.
I thought of Dae’Anna when I saw this (thanks Joan!!) on Facebook this morning with the caption, “So much darkness. Offer whatever light you can.”:
Don’t we all feel just like that cartoon these days? Standing in the dark and worried that our little efforts can’t do a bit of good? We can barely stand reading the news anymore, so fearful of what we might encounter next. We have heard about or witnessed so much hatred, so much anger, so much conflict, so much death. How can we hold on to our little candles and keep up hope?
But then there is that little girl, Dae’Anna, who in the end, may be the spark we all need if we pay attention. She is the candle in the midst of darkness, and she can inspire all of us to be candles too.
Tonight is Shabbat which means Jews all over the world are lighting candles. But I’m inviting EVERYONE to light candles tonight and place them where they can be seen from the outside. Let’s light them to offer whatever sparks we can into the darkness. Let’s offer our inner light to the shattered streets. Let’s honor the idea of a Shabbat full of “shalom” (which means more than peace but completeness and wholeness) by signaling to the world that we aren’t going to hide but going to be right here, sharing our goodness and doing our best to make society more whole. Let’s allow those candles to inspire us to be the voices that say, “It’s okay. I’m here.”
I know, I know. Lighting a candle or two doesn’t seem like it’s going to make any difference, but I believe that offering ourselves in small ways can make a big difference. Maybe our Shabbat candles can inspire us to simply offer a hug to someone who needs one, offer some help before being asked, invite someone over for dinner who is lonely, shake someone’s hand who feels disrespected, or donate a dollar where it is needed. Those actions won’t change the course of history, but make no mistake, we are changing the world. We are candles in the dark.
There is still so much joy in the world. There are still endless possibilities, beauties, and amazing stories. We won’t be lost if enough of us share our light during the worst of storms, and we may find that our tiny deeds go farther than we ever imagined.
Light a candle in your home tonight, and when you do, take a picture, and share it with this post or on Cool Shul’s Facebook page.
I hope for all of us a peaceful, safe, and candle-filled Shabbat.
P.S. Having trouble feeling that the world is still full of hope? Click here for a bit of inspiration: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IocLkk3aYlk.
P.P.S. Our next Shabbat celebration together will by June 22 at a private home in Santa Monica. If you would like to receive the evite, please email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org