As I was walking through the forests of Big Sur during the holidays, taking a socially-isolated reprieve from work and daily life, I was struck by the magnificence of how light expresses itself in the forest. In some areas, sunlight illuminates the burnt orange leaves of Oak trees. Around another corner, it reveals itself in narrow passageways resembling filtered light rays. 

At one moment of the hike, I was taken aback by how light uncovered the luminescent threads of an elaborate cobweb. The gift of viewing this work of art could not be experienced without the presence of light. 

Are we captivated every time we witness light casting itself upon nature? 

The same light we see in the universe exists within each of us. During this pandemic and time of emotional upheaval, we must take the time to acknowledge the way light illuminates around us, within us, and within others. 

In one of the oldest religions of ancient Persia, called Zoroastrianism, there is a strong emphasis upon honoring light as a divine symbol. Fire is the oldest element that has created light, has kept us warm, and provides a way for us to cook food. It also aids in personal transformation. 

In the shamanic tradition through civilizations rooted in the Amazon and Peru, fire ceremonies are deemed medicinal practices. We can participate in a simple fire ceremony by finding a small stick and candle and focusing through active meditation on something in our life we want to release. With intention, blow the wish multiple times into the stick before lighting it. As a small flame is lit upon the stick, we can scan one hand over the smoke and warmth, placing that hand after each scan on the body’s three main centers: the belly, heart and forehead. These are the three main areas we hold our deepest intentions. 

In yoga, it is a tradition at the end of class to repeat the Sanskrit phrase “Namaste,” meaning, “The light within me honors the light within you.” By connecting with the light within ourselves, we take that light out into the world and see it in others. 

One of the pre-requisites to admire light is to perceive the darkness. We must be obliged to admire the light on a morning hike, around a fire, after reciting “Namaste,” or during any experience where we feel darkness is enclosing. As singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen serenaded, “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it will materialize in 2021.

Jennifer Di Francesco is a wellness explorer and desert adventurist and can be reached at [email protected].

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