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Our Greatest Power

candle lighting another candle

This is our choice in every moment. Do we relate to our circumstances with bitterness or with openness?
~Pema Chodron~

If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary reality is within; secondary reality without.
~Eckhart Tolle from The Power of Now~

Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military might, and political control. My dear friends, I suggest that there is another kind of power, a greater power: the power to be happy right in the present moment, free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, anger, and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being, whether celebrated or unknown, rich or poor, strong or weak.
~Thich Nhat Hanh~

We have no power! my son, Patrick, yelled to me from the back door. It was a little after seven and my two teenage boys and I had just arrived at our home tucked back into the woods of our small farm in Bastrop County. The wind was whipping wildly and the moon was impossibly full, casting a silvery light as we unloaded backpacks and groceries from the car. Always looking for an excuse to light matches, my older son, Cassady, had two candles glowing by the time I got into the house.

What are we going to do? Patrick asked.

We’re going to light some more candles, find our flashlights, and carry on.

And that’s what we did. When my husband arrived we got out crackers and cheese, apples and peanut butter, chips and hummus and had a little picnic by candlelight. The boys told Aggie jokes to liven up the dinner conversation. After dinner, while my husband, Bill, and I chatted about our day, the boys played hide and go seek in the darkest part of the house until I decided that their unbridled exuberance was probably going to result in some sort of injury and made them stop. By then it was time to start getting ready for bed and so we brushed our teeth by candlelight, too.

We have plenty of power, I thought to myself. The power to choose how to carry on when the lights go out. The power to make a picnic out of a predicament. The power to savor this moment even if it’s not the moment I expected or even wanted it to be.

And to be perfectly honest, when the lights came on just before ten, I was a tiny bit sad our adventure was over.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing:
the last of human freedoms –
to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,
to choose one’s own way.
~Viktor E. Frankl~

Nancy McCranie

Nancy McCranie
Director of Volunteer and Bereavement Services

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