PTFW Board Member Dr. Ellen Bentz was kind enough to step into the spotlight this…
The Return of the Light by Peni Jo Renner
As the Winter Solstice and thus the shortest day approaches, I anticipate the hours of daylight lengthening. As a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) the lack of day light can really do a number on my positive outlook.
Why does light affect us so strongly? According to Healthline.com, “Decreased sun exposure has been associated with a drop in your serotonin levels, which can lead to major depression with seasonal pattern. The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes in through the eye. Sunlight cues special areas in the retina, which triggers the release of serotonin. So, you’re more likely to experience this type of depression in the wintertime, when the days are shorter.”
The article goes on to mention the benefits of using a light therapy box ( I purchased one after my brother in Bismarck told me he used one in his office). I call it my Happy Lamp and I’ll be darned if sitting in front of that thing for twenty minutes a day doesn’t help!
But Light (yes, with a capital “L”) has always been a favorite subject of mine, and I don’t just mean the sun’s rays or artificial illumination. I’d like to discuss the Light within us all.
James Keller said “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” And as we extend compassion and kindness to others, that’s what we’re doing.
But consider a flashlight in a similar analogy. A broader light beam illuminates a greater area whereas a narrower one is brighter. I have often wondered if one is better. I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends. But sometimes I wonder, am I diminishing my own Light by dispersing it among more people? Would my love and friendship be intensified if I had fewer friendships?
One of my Red Hat Society chapter members stated, “We’re all lighthouses.” She casts a remarkably broad beam of light that leaves me awestruck. While I wrestle with contemplating whether a wide beam is better than a stronger, narrower one, there she is, offering her Light abundantly.
Fortunately this inner Light seems to be limitless, so maybe my concern for spreading it too thin is unwarranted. Either way, whether one chooses to expand their Light or focus it in one centralized arena, I hope we all choose to let our own inner Lights shine as brilliantly as Sol himself.