For all his teachings, good works and radio shows, Bishop Fulton Sheen is best remembered for one statement: “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
The imagery fits my purpose. A life of small steps where every step counts.
Let me start from the top. I always carry a copy of my memoir, Ordinary Aphrodite, with me. It’s in my gym bag or in the trunk of my car, a reminder that I need to open the dialogue. And who is it I am supposed to talk to? I’m never sure. All I know is that when I pay attention, we meet. She’s often pudgy, sometimes standing with her head down, lonely or sad. Sometimes it’s a young married woman. Sometimes it’s a guy. Eyes connect, I smile and the connection is made.
We talk about life and paying attention, and feeding our inner selves. About the parts of us, our spiritual, sexual, physical and mental selves, and how we become healthy and whole. These are things that matter to me, and when I find a woman who feels the same way, we energize each other, and when the conversation is over we are each bigger, better and bolder than when we met. Maybe it’s a twenty-minute conversation on the treadmill, or maybe a one-minute chat at the bank. Many times I pull out a copy of my book and give it to her.
It’s like an innocent flirtation of the soul—where the memory remains with us of a life-changing conversation with a seat mate on a flight to Phoenix or a chance meeting in the gluten-free section of Safeway.
I suspect it is God using us to lighten another’s load—it feels like that when it happens—as though we are each other’s angel. And it’s happening more frequently. Every time I leave the house, call the mortgage company to see if it’s a good time to refinance for a lower rate or order a shirt online, I find myself making a heart connection. People tell me fragile secrets and I am a respectful listener. I never worry about what I’ll say because God provides the words. It’s nothing I do—it’s what I have agreed to become. I have said “Yes” because there are hungry hearts out there, waiting for an honest connection with another human being.
So that’s the power of one, a single candle lighting the darkness.
Just a reminder for today. Stretch your comfort zone. Look up from your smart phone, smile and connect.