My Guiding Lantern


I love to swim under water and imagine breathing. I am surrounded by quiet calm, move freely to explore. This feeling gives me hope. The moments stretch on til the end of my breath when I have to surface and renew. Close my eyes and breathe in life to open them again under water.


I look for these moments now while in meditation, while waiting at a light, while chewing my food, when I am idle. The memory is in the lamp I hold up to the dark searching for respite. Where is my calmness? Where is my comfort?


The flame burns of kindness, respect and love. The flame grows brighter as I befriend my heart and listen to my fears. This lamp helps me find myself when I am lost. It’s hard to find when I am demanding and driven with my judging arms crossed.


I forgive myself for forsaking my light in my life. Sometimes I forget I have a lamp. Sometimes I am distracted off my path. I trust with mindfulness I find myself again. With a relieving sigh I am here, I am committed and I present for me. I trust and breathe.


Poem by Marisa Donnelly


I am but one in this atmosphere. One person. One smile. One body on these legs. One heart beating furiously in my chest.


I am but one in this universe. One collection of cells. One set of lungs. One tiny mind spinning with thoughts, with words.


I am but one in this life. But even one stone can make a ripple. One raindrop create a storm. One step can change a course.

And though I am but one, I am strong.


Participants’ Reflections:

  • You know those earworms, the one going through my mind today during the meditation was “I cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good I can do.” We dance to it in my non-impact aerobics class. So when you were talking about ‘I am one,’ you as one, you do the good you can, and that’s enough.

  • I want to thank you for that earworm. The other night, I was at an activist group and by the end, I was so overwhelmed by all that we were talking about and doing, I was so into it. When I got off the zoom, I didn’t know what happened to my life. Everything I’ve been doing, it’s like not important and irrelevant compared to what must be done. I felt so unfocused. It took me a few hours to get back onto my path and what I am doing. I’m going to keep that earworm as a mantra.

  • Sometimes I forget I have a lamp and I think the counter to that is ‘I am one and I am strong.’ It’s hard to feel the positive when I am feeling the other. That feeling of being overwhelmed by all the things I wish I could do, that I need to do for other people and I feel so ant-like. But I keep going. And I do what I can.

  • I’ve been contemplating. I love St. Therese of Lisieux. She is known as the ‘little flower.’ She is a saint in the Catholic Church. She was very young when she went to the convent and she died young. But her whole thing was very small acts. She would be in church and a nun behind her was making this irritating noise, that was getting to her and she would overcome it and show love. She would just try and love people. When people wanted to make her a saint, the Mother Superior of her church was against it and said, “she’s not a saint. If she can be a saint, anyone can be a saint.” She was one of the most popular saints in the world and it takes the pressure off. I was also thinking about one of my favorite images, a blade of grass. And how each blade of grass has a light, and I like to think each blade of grass has an angel. It’s a lightworker.

  • I worked with a teacher who taught about cat hair representing the love that grows in a cat. In a beam of light, you see a speck of dust, a cat hair, that it holds the essence of light, like a crystal.

  • I’m reminded of the whole butterfly effect, sensitive dependence on initial conditions. It’s why, when I do my morning hike, I wave at every single car that comes by. I like to think that, if the first experience people have after they leave the house in the morning is a positive one—this crazy stranger waving at me—that they will maybe pay it forward. Things are so overwhelming right now. Small acts can make a big difference. Otherwise, there’s nothing but despair.

  • It reminds me of the website www.kindness.org. It has a ton of information about kindness stories, ideas to be kind.

  • Sometimes we have to find those things that inspire us instead of waiting for them to come to us. Inspiration helps us, whether it’s something to read or view or say, it helps.

  • Part of me says to stay silent and just listen. It was interesting this morning, as you were reading, the sound cut out for me and I only got a small piece. What I heard was about forgiving oneself. All the rest I didn’t hear. I take that to mean, from my higher power, this is the piece you need to hear. That’s where I went. There’s a micro and macro way to be. Sometimes in our lives we are focused on the outer and on the greater good. It comforts me to hear in the shares that there are people out there focusing on the bigger issues now when mine is so inward. So I don’t have to beat myself up for not being out there. I’ve been out there which is why I’m here. It’s all okay. The important piece for me is to stay connected, stay in my heart, and the next right thing will appear for me. And to love and support the people who, with their presence, can go out there and do the waves and go to the activist groups. I can hold that container and why I do my work at home. That was a great reminder that there are many of us and we are connected, and each of us puts energy into what we are focused on. It is like that blade of grass, for each reflecting that light to make an amazing tapestry.

  • I like the idea of the lantern, the light is warm and comforting. When I moved into an apartment, it was after the virus started. I was looking forward to meeting people and greeting their dogs. One day, there was a man walking by with his dog. I asked for the dog’s name and said she was really sweet. Instead of it just being that or nothing at all, I said to him that animals are gifts. I said if everyone treated animals with compassion, the world would be in better shape because of the basic respect. He stopped and looked at me. We connected and he appreciated it. Instead of saying nothings, I said something from my heart.

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