In gratitude to the Lantern Bearers.

Today has been a day when I’ve sought comfort from one of my favourite novels.  The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge is a simple Christmas story set in a far simpler time, bringing alive an English Cathedral city of the 1870’s in the lead up to Christmas and New Year. Aptly, for a sweet but also wise Christmas story, it speaks about love, faith, forgiveness and redemption. I have needed reminders of these things today. My heart is heavy, sorrowing for my beautiful city of Melbourne, once again attacked by a damaged human being, who drove into a crowd of pedestrians. Deliberately. Nineteen people are now left recovering from their injuries – three of them critically injured.

There is so much sadness in this world. Too much. So much of it is senseless and avoidable.

What helps me get through these days is the knowledge we can all be lantern bearers. So many of the novels I love are written by lantern bearers – writers who shine a light on the human condition and help build bridges of empathy, deepening our sense of self knowledge. They sing a song of faith we can achieve a better tomorrow by not turning our faces away from the evils of this world.

I also write because I have this faith. Writing has always been my tool to examine life; by writing, I make sense of and deepen my own human experience. Reading is the other side of the coin to writing. I am so thankful today that I am a reader of books. My lifelong study of history has introduced me to so many lantern bearers, men and women  who have inspired my life and helped me keep believing in humanity.

Before I turn in for the night and return to reading my book of comfort, let me share with you this quote from one of my favourite movies, inspired by one of my favourite novel trilogies. It has also helped me today:

I can’t do this, Sam.

I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

What are we holding onto, Sam?

That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

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