Make Yourself a Light

bud-1 Make Yourself a Light

“Make of yourself a light.” — said the Buddha, before he died.

The picture above is a space in my yard where I go when I need to center myself. It is my sanctuary. It is where I come when I feel overwhelmed. It is where I sit when I can’t figure out what I think about, well, anything.

There is so much to think about these days. There is so much to fret about. There is so much to get angry about. (How about Jon Stewart testifying this week to a near-empty Congress with all the families from 9/11? His message was powerful and should fire us all up.)

There is also so much to be excited about. So much to be hopeful about. So much to be grateful for. When I sit in my backyard and look at the calm statue pictured above, that’s where I end up—in a place of peace, a place of calm, a place of gratitude. “Make of yourself a light,” said the Buddha in Mary Oliver’s poem “The Buddha’s Last Instruction.” (You can read it in our Sunday Paper Reflection section below.) So, that’s what I want to focus on this morning: making myself a light.

That invitation goes out to each of us every day. It’s also a challenge that each of us can decide to answer take on, regardless of what’s going on in the world. You can make yourself a light for yourself, for your family, for your community, for an issue you care about, or for injustice in the world.

On this Father’s Day, I want to shine a light on all the men who step into this role with light, joy, purpose and passion. I want to shine a light on those who take it seriously. Who show up to their roles, regardless of whether or not their fathers showed up for them.

A father’s positive involvement can change a child’s life. It can build character, instill values, and inspire hopes and dreams. Fathers can make themselves a light in their children’s lives. So today, I want to honor those who have thought deeply about this role. I want to shine a light on the men who do the work. Men who father their own. Men who father the fatherless among us. May we honor those who have stepped into the lives of those who need a father and said, “Let me make myself a light in your life.”

On this day, I find myself thinking about my own father, who died several years ago. I know there are many for whom this day is bittersweet. I also find myself thinking about my four brothers, my kids’ dad, and all the other men who I know who have stepped up and stepped into the role of fathering in their lives. To them, I say, bravo!

Men are encouraged to be providers. They are encouraged to be tough and to be strong. May we also encourage them to be lights in their children’s lives.

We need lights in our world today. We need people who want to be lights, and who want to shine their light on others. We need people who pause before they speak, who take a beat before they act, and who are strong enough to ask for forgiveness when they stumble (as we all do).

So on this day, if you are feeling angry or disillusioned about the world around you, find that space where you can go to gather yourself. Find that space where you can go to reflect. Find that space where you can go to reconsider and remind yourself why you are here in the first place.

Are you here to sow division and hate? Are you here divide and conquer? Or are you here to take up the invitation of the Buddha? Are you here to be a light in your world and in another’s?

It is up to you to make yourself something that makes you feel good. Decide what that is today. Be a light today, and also shine a light on a man or father who you love.


Dear God, may I make myself a light in the world. May I also shine a light on those who are doing good and who have had a meaningful impact on my life and those I love. Amen.

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