Finding Light in a Dark Place


Graphic by Grace Dunlavy

Amid all the bad news, gimmicky phrases (I’m looking at you, Dr. Pestello. What the heck is OneSLU?) and despair that surrounds us today, it can be easy to feel lost. Maybe you tripped on a rock while walking a path you thought was going to take you into adulthood.  Maybe people you’ve been close with for your entire life now seem miles away. Maybe it feels like you’re stumbling around your house with the lights off, desperately reaching for a light switch. Maybe you feel all of the above. Maybe you feel none of it.

Whatever the case, you are not alone.  You never have been, and you never will be. In your darkest hour, when you feel like the light of your very soul is being sucked out by the darkness that surrounds you, look for the flickers in the dark.  Look for the lights. That light may belong to a family member, a pet or a best friend. You may find it in a good book, a funny show or a kind heart. Great moments are born out of great suffering.

The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptian pharaoh for generations, until a chosen one helped guide them out with a little faith in God. American revolutionaries dedicated their lives to the hope that they could establish a better life for themselves and for their children. Millions died fighting the hate of Hitler and his regime. In the midst of great pain and anguish, humanity has proved its strength time and time again. Each time we fall, we’ve compelled each other and ourselves to get up and take a little more punishment. This time is no different.

Now, we isolate ourselves to protect our loved ones and our friends. We even do so to protect the people we don’t know. The photographs of deserted campuses, city streets and towns that headline the news nowadays prove the endless love that we have for one another.  Look not on such images with fear and despair, but rather with a sense of accomplishment and hope.  

We’re coming together to fight a common enemy, just as we have in the past. This time, however, the fight is not confined to political borders. We are not divided as nations pitted against one another. We are united in common cause against an enemy so small it can only be seen under a microscope, yet so powerful that it’s already affected the entire planet.

And while it may get worse before it gets better, remember that the light of others can never be extinguished. For while the body of a person may perish from the Earth, their light will eternally burn on in the memories of those that loved them. Our experiences with others shape who we are as people, and in turn, the lights of those who came before us each make up a small part of the flame that burns now in every person’s soul.

We will emerge out of all this misery, stir-craziness and loneliness with a greater appreciation for those we could not spend isolation with. We’ll better understand the power of physical touch, be it a handshake, a hug or a kiss. Until then, make the most of the opportunity you have now. Watch a movie with your dad. Play a board game with your roommate. Call your grandparents. Thank a professor. Order in, and tip generously. Whatever you do to pass the time, do it with hope for the future.