A Little Light, Please

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sarah joslyn -a little light please-3

I am not afraid of winter.

I am a Pacific Northwest stereotype through and through. I wear boots and wool plaid lumberjack coats and slouchy beanies and I trek outdoors in the rain with a grin on my face.

I can handle the long, dark days and the incessant rain and the bare trees. I know this is a gift.

But I also have another gift: I am able to spot the light no matter how long it has been dark.

And friends, it has been dark.

2017 was dark. It threatened to steal my optimism. It wore down my faith. It exhausted every bone in my body. And for the first time in my life I nearly lost my ability to find the light.

At the beginning of 2017 I started a gratitude practice in the form of a hashtag on Instagram. #alittlelightplease was born out of my need to talk about radical justice and hope and sometimes just to find moments of levity in an otherwise crummy week.

I have been desperate to share light in a way that acknowledges how dark it is right now. I am desperate to bring hope, but I will not stomp on grief to get there—we need space for both to coexist.

This practice has guided me to a new way of celebrating life and honoring pain. It has quieted down my need to fix, fix, fix and smile, smile, smile and to “never let them see you cry.”

Screw that.

sarah joslyn -a little light please-2

I decided to let them see me cry.

I cried when I shared a photo of the sun on my curtains this past Thanksgiving because I was grieving my country’s history of pillaging and abusing and how we haven’t really changed much. I cried when I posted an image of the candles I lit and said prayers for Sandra Bland’s family on what would have been her 30th birthday. And I also happy-cried when I shared smiling images of my partner celebrating his joy in a bowling alley and on a hiking trail and at the beach. I used this practice of gratitude to splash my Instagram with photos of my baby nephew and my little neighbors and my best friends. And all of those images have saved me this year.

I am undone and I am choosing to let others into that space. I am openly grieving and openly celebrating and hoping that all this raw, soul-baring honesty will chip away some of my armor and maybe someone else’s too.

This is not a highlight reel. It is light and it is bright, but it is not glossed-over versions of the real deal. This is the real deal. This is hope living through the darkest months of the rainiest, coldest year I’ve ever known.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. —Martin Luther King, Jr. 

_______________________

Editor’s Note: We were so inspired by Sarah’s quest for #alittlelightplease, we’ve decided to join her in January and make it our theme. Join us in searching for and shining a little more light in our world.

 

 

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Sarah Joslyn
I’m more likely to answer to Sars than Sarah. That’s because years ago my brothers started calling me Sars and, as the name implies, it was infectious. I’m a self-proclaimed writer-photographer-Jesuslover-painter-adventurer-foodie. I have a near obsession with ending injustice and I’m a sucker for a good cause. I blog about life and building a tiny house at sometimesscreaminghelps.com.
Sarah Joslyn
Sarah Joslyn

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  • Shaley Hoogendoorn

    THIS ♥️ IS SO BEAUTIFUL! I have been flowing along all year Friend. I love how real and honest you are. You really make us all want to be the same. So good to see you writing here. I miss you!!!
    //
    I am undone and I am choosing to let others into that space. I am openly grieving and openly celebrating and hoping that all this raw, soul-baring honesty will chip away some of my armor and maybe someone else’s too.
    //
    A MILLION TIMES YES!!!

    • Sarah Joslyn

      Shaley, THANK YOU. Miss you. ❤️

  • I appreciate your determination to let the light in without striking the Pollyanna-ish pose that so often comes with this stance. Darkness is very real, and each of us receives light in our own way and according to a different time table.
    Thanks for persevering in love and in light.

    • Sarah Joslyn

      That’s such a good way of describing that glossed over thing—Pollyanna-ish. Brilliant.

      Thank you, Michele.

  • Stacey Pardoe

    I found myself walking down a snowy country road in blustery Pennsylvania yesterday afternoon with my phone open . . . Looking back over photos of 2017 and doing the very thing you descried: rejoicing over the triumphs and mourning the dark times. Isn’t it interesting how it all comes intertwined in one clump? I love your determination to look for the light. This is my goal as we dive into a new year! Thanks for your words today 🙂

    • Sarah Joslyn

      That’s also something I’ve done at the end of each year. This past year I said more of it out loud to the world. It has been surprisingly cathartic and hard all at once.

  • I didn’t so much decide to let people see me cry, it just happened several times and the world didn’t end, so I decided to be ok with it. Grief and gratitude probably sum up my 2017 too. I will keep looking for a little light.

    • Sarah Joslyn

      Ha. Yes, deciding to be ok with it is a good way to describe my 2017 grieving process as well. ❤️

  • I am so excited that we are walking with you through this. Thank you for telling us how this all started. I love your voice, my friend.

    • Sarah Joslyn

      I’ve missed you. Thank you for opening up a space for my messy self this week.

  • Sarah, this is everything that God has been leading me through in the last few weeks. Life hurts, and it is also the most gorgeous thing, and both of those truths can coexist. Not wanting to overstep my bounds, but I wanted to ask – may I utilize that hashtag for my own light journey in 2018? Thank you so much for your authenticity. 🙂

  • Saskia Wishart

    You! SO full of wisdom. Balancing the light and the dark, the grief and the gratitude. It is a beautiful thing. Thank you for inspiring a little more light in the world. LOVE YOU.