During some of the darkest times of my life, I am so grateful that I understood that often the only light to be found would be in the eyes of people around me. Whenever things were at an all time low, I knew that light could still come in, in brief flickers, to keep the dark at bay. Virginia Woolf (who certainly knew a thing or two about darkness in life) wrote, “…there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark…” and that is exactly how love has come to me over the years. In short, often small, but usually brilliantly bright bursts – enough to help me not completely lose my way.
Not long ago, some ladies who love me wanted to celebrate what I’ve come to call The Day the Shadows Went Away and when questioned about gifts to commemorate the happy occasion, I requested the following:
Help me decorate an objet d’art for the reading space in my home: a lampshade that will reflect the love and light I have received (and know I will continue to receive), during the darkest of times, from my wonderful friends. I’m asking that guests bring a brooch or pin of their choice (either from their own jewelry box, antiques store or… ?) and accompany it with a short description (even a sentence will do) or tale of why it is being given. It could be that it serves as a reminder of time spent together, or a wish to be made or a meaningful quote from the mind of another. These pins will ultimately be collected to live on a lamp shade that will set beside one of the coziest of spots in my house. It will be a place of rest and retreat, a corner of light and love, reflecting the jewels that make up my circle of friends and loved ones.
Boxes and bags arrived with an array of pins and brooches. There were cats in clown suits, pink flamingos, glorious 1920’s vintage paste brooches, floral spray pins – they ran the gamut. Truly everything from quirky to elegant and they all came wrapped in love and affection from women I admire and look up to.
While the pins were beautiful, whimsical and wonderful, I have to say that they came second in the line-up of the delicious words that accompanied them. There were notes that spoke of: time spent together making memories; poems dedicated to all things autumn; passion for life, art and family; diamonds and rubies and their true worth; the history of a family tree; the gift of beautiful music; baskets full of good wishes; and marvelous things that sparkle and shine. Their words brought a smile to my lips, tears to my eyes and an expansion that my heart did not know possible.
Now, when I am tucked into my reading chair, the one with the odd carving of a face I’m still not sure ‘tis friend or foe (which is another story, over a different cup of tea) – I am bathed in the light of those I love, who love me in return. If ever I can give back to the women who kept my path illuminated, I know that Edith Wharton expressed best how I can do so: “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” My friends are the true source of light and love, my job is just to mirror their example. However, sometimes I see the true artistic beauty of our friendship as something in the art world called chiaroscuro, ( from Italian: chiaro, “light”; scuro, “dark”) a technique to represent light and shadow, as beautifully crafted by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, in such paintings as his “Adoration of the Magi.” Friendship rises and falls as we each enter into our own periods of light (graduations, engagements, new jobs or relationships) and dark (parental illness, financial woes, relationship discord), yet wWe bounce light and dark off of one another and it is a thing of great and exquisite beauty.
Over the years, my friends have served to remind me that no matter how heavy and dark the world can get, there is still a radiance and tremendous lightness to our being that can bring us back to the top of our true shining form. My little art project, my Shade of Light and Love serves to constantly remind me of a line from J.K. Rowling, “We’ve all both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” I am reminded that no matter the darkness that surrounds us, if we look, there is light. There is always going to be the tiniest amount of light, a light that can brighten a room, our spirit and our mood. That light is the love that bounces between us, if we’ll only let it in.
xo – t.
“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.” – Robert Alden
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino
“Love is not consolation. It is light.” – Friedrich Nietzsche