Be the Light We Need
When I was composing my critical thesis for my MFA in writing, light was a theme that returned to me over and over again. I was writing about epiphanies in fiction and how each moment of inspiration, each flash of genius we (our own stories' protagonists) encounter acts in our brains and hearts and even lives as if a light is switched on.
Everything is illuminated in a new way.
So, I wondered as I wandered through my research how, in a world with so many shadows and distractions, do we teach our young ones the way to find--and be--light?
I began that thesis with an idea spoken so well by one of my favorite KidLit authors, Kate DiCamillo: "Stories are light. Light is so precious in a world so dark." ~The Tale of Despereaux
Light IS so precious, so necessary to dispel the darkness. I'm sure light means many things, even different things to different people. But I think we'd all agree that light brings inspiration, joy, hope, clarity, kindness, peace, and even love.
In the presence of light, darkness flees. In the presence of inspiration, frustration flees. In the presence of kindness, cruelty flees. And so on...
Stories can have that effect on their readers, too. It's actually the reason I write and, even more so, the reason I write for children.
And it's the reason I want to share one of the first books I nominated for Maryland's Black-Eyed Susan Award this year.
The metaphors in The Star Keeper are many, but the main one is the treasure: Each of us is the keeper of our own star, our own light. And how we use our stars (AKA: hide, covet, or steal vs. present, share, or offer) makes all the difference in the world.
While the star keeper initially tries to hide the star she's found, she learns through trial and error that it is in giving it away that the light is fueled. In parsing her light into pieces, it is actually perfected. And it provides for others.
Hope. Inspiration. Peace. Love.
This is a story that shows readers their implicit value, one that is, in and of itself, an epiphany! It just turns all the lights on. And the message of how our light dispels darkness for others will linger the way epiphanies do as well, in the form of little inspirational ideas. And if you or your littles need more inspiration, check out these one hundred ideas!
Perhaps it goes without saying that people are stories, too. But I am often truly amazed by the light that flows from others. Here are some recent stunning examples of People=Stories=Light that might accompany discussions about how to be a Star Keeper.
That pause at the end, that moment when you could hear a pin drop after she finished her anthem, was proof that Nightbirde had dispelled not only her own darkness, but ours as well. She soared through it and she carried us with her. See her update!
Of course, I'm not the only dreamer who believes that we are light. Just ask Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate whose inaugural speech still shines in our hearts. She reminds us
When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough
to be it.
Amen. So be it.