Time to revisit Sister Stan – one of the things i hadn’t really expected when i started to blog about wisdom books was that many of them contain so much wisdom that it is difficult to distill it. The first blog i wrote about Sister Stan’s book ‘Now is the Time’ 1457 only dealt with the first chapter of her book. If you have been reading my blogs regularly and reading the books yourself, you will have seen that for yourself – it is no disrespect to the books, if anything it is an acknowledgement of the extent of the wisdom contained in their pages. My plan is to revisit the omissions in future blogs.
Now, back to Sister Stan.
We are going to, for the moment, skip a few chapters and talk about ‘A Time for a Little Light’. As we reach the middle of January, it seems a good time to look at the sources of light in our lives. In the northern hemisphere, we are most aware of darkness in January, and the other winter months; the light of the sun is feeble and cannot be depended upon to provide much warmth or cheer. That is not to say that there is not great beauty, the snows of recent days in the west of Ireland have shown that.
And sometimes a little light lets us see the beauty that we might not see in the full glare of the summer sun – just as we sometimes appreciate the beauty of life more in difficult times when we, or our loved ones, are suffering.
The advent of the New Year fills most of us with hope and positive expectations – i love the feel and look of an empty diary – all those days stretching out in front of me, filled with the richness of promise and the possibility of achievement. Each day to be taken one at a time, the blanks to be filled in with the events of the Now. Happy days to be lived moment by moment.
Of course, by mid-month, our enthusiasm has diminished somewhat, our resolutions have already been cracked, if not shattered.
and all that seems to remain is the dark and the cold and disillusionment.
Sister Stan tells us that we all need a source of light in our lives, ‘a beacon to help us find and drop anchor in our true homes within ourselves”. We all need guides to follow and learn from, Sister Stan advises, ‘We need people who will act like lighthouses and show us the way, people who will light our journey for us”
Sometimes we don’t even recognize that we need a source of light, that we need people to enlighten us. I mentioned in an earlier blog, 1456, that i intend to seek Refuge and follow a master in Buddhism this year – Sister Stan is suggesting the same, The standards she sets for such a light are demanding, as they should be, but they also help to clarify for us how much we may need such a guide. She says that we need people who, “will unmask our false idols; who can help us interpret what we hear through the media; who will throw the light of human values on public issues; who can combine prophecy and protest, no matter how difficult it is; who will show us the apartheid that exists in every society, including our own”.
Words of wisdom.
Challenging but no big deal really, most of us, at some time or another, learn from others, from others worth learning from. Most of us can recognize wisdom when we hear it, identify wise people when we see them, appreciate the wisdom in books, like wise sayings and events on social media.
But life demands more than that – firstly we are challenged to live our lives according to this wisdom.
And there’s more:
We cannot live our lives as tourists, Sister Stan reminds us, we must be involved, be active, care about our communities, our societies, our world. Remember, being detached does not mean not caring, on the contrary, it means caring so much that you act; but wisely and honestly, always with love and compassion.
We all need to become lights for others.
‘If we are to become lights for others, we have to let go of the protected territory that we feel is ours, even though that goes against the grain and against our long-cultivated habits. Letting go doesn’t come easy to any of us. For all of us there are objects and possessions, status and positions of distinction that block and blind us, and yet we hold on to them because we think we can’t surrender them’, Sister Stan includes herself amongst the attached and describes an experience of when she was very sick and had to let go of many things.
‘But it is not enough to see light and to recognize lights, however small and weak, as I did after my illness; we must also be willing to become lights ourselves, to extend ourselves, open ourselves to every experience, facing it squarely and letting it affect us’, Sister Stan tells us.
That is the challenge – expect to feel fear, to desire to retreat, to attempt anything so that experiences do not affect us – expect it and overcome it, not by battling but by letting it be. ‘But it takes courage to be a light”, Sister Stan agrees, ‘It takes courage to disagree with government policies and practices. It takes courage to stand up for marginalized people – homeless people, Travellers, Aborigines, Native Americans, refugees – in the face of criticism”
Sister Stan reminds us about Christ, she tells us, ‘When he called Christians to let their light shine before the world, he was talking about the light that shines from our innermost being, that part of us where God has written his name on us”.
To find our true inner lights we must seek stillness, we must look inside. Sister Stan says that to find our true light, “we must go deeper into our selves, and the deeper we go, the brighter will be our light”. Be still that you shall know. We have read elsewhere that meditation is the path to stillness, to being. In my philosophy class we were taught that meditation is the most important thing. Just that; the most important thing. They say that you should meditate for at least twenty minutes every day – unless you are busy of course – in that case you should meditate for an hour a day!
‘Now is the Time‘, Sister Stan states, ‘This is our time to make a difference, to be a light. This is our time to develop the best in ourselves so that we can make the best possible light for everyone”
Now is our Time