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17 Small ways to shine a light in the darkness

Candle held in hand in the darkness

Jorge Luis Acasiete Conza | Cathopic

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 10/16/23

Here are a few little things you might do to choose truth, beauty and goodness whenever the news is particularly heavy and hard.

There are times when the world feels particularly heavy and dark, but I don’t want to pretend for a moment that this is anything new. 

The darkness of evil is always present. It just becomes more or less obvious to our eyes at different times. 

All the way back in 1845, abolitionist James Russell Lowell described how evil so often seems to have the upper hand:

Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

Yes! God is always with us. And in imitation of the one who is the Light of the World, we can find ways to shine a light for goodness, truth and beauty in our own small ways.

How can we immerse ourselves in love when our hearts are heavy? How can we fight evil with goodness in our ordinary lives?

I want to actively help put more goodness out into the world, even in the smallest of ways. Here are a few little things you might do this week to choose truth, beauty and goodness while the news is heavy and hard.

1Pray

The peace of praying the Rosary or joining with others in prayer at Mass feels especially needed right now. Storming Heaven with prayer is one of the most direct ways we can help.

2Organize a community dinner

Or have a family over for dinner or invite a friend (or how about a lonely neighbor?) over for tea or a dessert. Offering hospitality is one of my favorite ways to put goodness out into the world. 

3Read Scripture together

I’m finding solace in reading from the Bible. Today my kids and I were reading from the Psalms, and this verse stood out to me: “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” (Psalm 10:12)

4Call a loved one who lives far away

Reaching out across the distance reaffirms the bonds of love, even when you can’t be together in person.

5Bring someone a meal

Bringing a nourishing meal to someone who is sick or has a new baby or could use a night off from cooking is always appreciated. Perhaps there is an elderly person living in your neighborhood who would appreciate your home cooking!

6Sing hymns

Those who sing pray twice, right? Beautiful hymns proclaim our loyalty to the God who is Love.

7Hold babies

Babies are all that is good in this world.

8Get down on the floor to play with your kids

Make your kids happy and immerse yourself in their imaginative world for a little while. 

9Offer to watch the older kids for your friend with a new baby

She’ll be glad to have time with just her newborn, and at least for my family, this occasion doubles as a super fun play date for my kids with their little friends.

10Get outside in the sunshine

Nature heals the soul. Going outside always lifts my spirits when my heart feels heavy. Give praise to God for creating such a beautiful world.

11Set a beautiful table

Even if it’s just a routine weeknight dinner, take a minute to choose place mats or lay a pretty tablecloth, or set flowers on the table. Setting a beautiful table is a sweet way to honor and cherish this time with your family.

12Light candles

Lighting a candle, especially to pray with your loved ones, is a visible symbol of chasing away the darkness.

13Mail a letter to someone you love

Getting a handwritten card always makes my day, so this is a sweet way to spread a little happiness.

14Make something useful or beautiful

Working with our hands calms and centers our minds and hearts. 

15Bring flowers to a neighbor or friend

A fresh bouquet of flowers is always appreciated. Bonus points if you bring them from your garden!

16Listen to uplifting music

Music is proven to lift your mood, so this is a go-to remedy for hard days around here.

17Send a text thanking someone you love for their presence in your life

A quick text saying, “I’m so glad we’re friends” goes a long way to warm someone’s heart. 

These little acts might not seem like they add up to very much. But keep fighting the good fight, friends.

Keep loving those babies. Choose to be grateful, and generous. Build up your friends and communities.

With each choice we make for love, we are holding up outposts of light in a world that is too often darkened by sin.

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Acts of Kindness
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