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Competition: Notre Dame Feast Day Writing Challenge

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Competition: Notre Dame Feast Day Writing Challenge

It wasn’t for another 5 years or so that he passed away from a heart condition. It was so sudden and so shocking, it didn’t know how to react. So I fell into a darkness. Pretty cliched storyline, I know, but I think many people can resonate with my story. I fell into this kind of dark hole and felt like I couldn’t get out. Months and months it took.

I eventually realised I had to carry on and make him proud. Although he isn’t here to congratulate me and I can’t actually see his presence, he is hopefully proud of me.

This is a quite simple and short story but it shows how grief, as bad as it is, can help you become stronger as a person and really help you strive to become the best you can be. And that’s how I turned one of the darkest moments in my life into a slightly better one. His memory will continue to live on and I will continue to live on and strive for him.

Shilaan Salih

There cannot be darkness without light, and likewise, there cannot be light without darkness; this is a common phrasing used often in moments of despair, displaying a call to hope and faith. It’s the paragon of an optimistic outlook - seeing the glass half full. In a similar sense ‘better to light a candle than curse a darkness,’ carries the same sentiment. Perhaps to ‘curse’ the darkness alludes to uttering bitter words towards tribulations, but the candlelight represents a brighter alternative. That even in moments of bleakness and futility, there is a stubborn will within us to light the way.

However, although there is an apparent rationale in the intention, there is perhaps also an underlying level of absurdism. The light of a candle is usually one that can be undone easily and requires a relatively larger amount of effort to ignite in the first place. It’s far easier to ‘curse a darkness,’ perhaps in other words, it’s far easier to submit to anger and remain complacent, since you are passively leaning towards short-term comfort, but consequently, long-term detriment. This, when remaining unaffected and unchanged, tends to seamlessly lead to a relentless cycle of self-hatred and undignified rage; it’s a level of defeatism that, once accepted, can impact oneself as well as those surrounding. The notion of giving up is naturally attributed to a venomous warmth, but hope, a hideous face but worthwhile quality. Yet, somehow, this hopefulness and faith are represented by a mere flicker of a candle? – perhaps this is the essence of what the quote may represent.

To fight against a heavy darkness will never be easy, rather, it may never be easier than succumbing to it and remaining there. In addition, it may not always be possible to fight full throttle, but the human mind is notorious for developing small ideas into grander realities; it is how wars have started, it is how medicine has progressed, how civilizations were formed, how scientific breakthroughs were achieved. This seemingly small flame, if properly tended to, can form forest fires worth of heat – but at the beginning, all it seemed like was an absurdist's fantasy; to nurture candlelight under oceans of darkness. Dylan Thomas wrote ‘’Rage, rage against the dying of the light,’’ suggesting it’s better to revolt rather than resign; highlighting the key importance of self-worth and resilience. Reflecting the similar notion of stubborn hope.

In an article by Elaine Houston, the benefits of Hope Interventions are explored. These are sessions utilizing selected strategies with the purpose of revitalizing and improving positive cognition and well-being. It’s believed these aid clients who primarily feel they are losing control, experience failure or loss, feel as though everything they do is unimpactful, and feel as though they aren’t understood. There are many instances in which Hope Interventions have been successfully utilized and successful in clinical settings. For example, in 2012 Shekarabi-Ahari conducted an experiment on 20 mothers with children who had cancer to examine the impact hope interventions would have. It was concluded that there had been a significant decrease in depression in the mothers and increase in hope after two months (as well as belief of further use of the interventions after the examination was complete). In an article by Ernest Rosenbaum, M.D, and David Spiegel, M.D, from Standford Medicine School of Medicine, they also explore the effect of hope and a positive mindset on patients suffering from cancer and conclude ‘’...hope is what keeps them alive to endure treatments and social and personal adversities...Anything that demoralizes a person can negate the feeling of hope, which can make a difference in accepting or denying the next set of treatments if failure occurs.’’ This emphasises the greater impact, a change in mindset can have with the ability to improve and, implicitly, save the lives of those facing grievous diseases like cancer.

Adversity in life is something that we will all face regardless of how things seem now, there’s truly no telling how the future may play out. No matter how much you plan for it or anticipate it, it’ll find a way to push you past your limit. But that’s not a good reason to give up. Essentially, it is always better to light a candle than curse a darkness, as to curse a darkness in idleness is to doom yourself to remaining in it bitterly in arrogant blindness, but to light a candle despite the current trepidation is to illuminate the bigger picture, even a little, providing vision and incentive.

Marwa Farah

'Better to light a candle than curse the darkness'

Better to light a candle, better to have hope, better to assume the best before yielding to defeat. But is this always simple?

For many reasons, one may think that those who metaphorically 'light a candle' may be privileged in some way over others. They have recourses and connections which readily support them when times are tough, or they have seen many times that the world has their back and can therefore afford to keep faith. This can lead to self-pity and the cry that 'if things were different' they would never be so-called 'doomed', however, unsurprisingly this is untrue. What if I told you regardless of the cards you are dealt with you should persevere and everything will always turn out for the better? Yes, this may seem like useless false hope, optimistic propaganda and so on, however, it is the undeniable truth that individuals with this mindset are those who triumph over others, achieve their dreams, and are therefore successful. Have you ever seen a successful person who claimed to have never believed in themselves during their journey? No. Yes, there is a (small) probability that this COULD have been said to seem ambitious and could be untrue- but it's most likely not. You've heard of people who were once homeless but later owned an incredibly successful business, so what makes you think you're so different? Could they have got there without 'lighting a candle in the dark'? No. So what makes you think you're so inferior? You're just as capable of achieving your goals- your mindset is the only thing stopping you.

There may not be a single person in this world going through what you have gone through, and there may be no one who understands or could share your pain, but the way to move forward is to find healing and then progress through life. Don't let these experiences or circumstances consume you and become part of your identity, because the truth is that you can move past them.

So why is it 'better to light a candle than to curse the darkness' and is it true?

The answer is simple: those who are looking to find the exit of the tunnel will do so by finding comfort and guidance in the flame, while those who sit there and cry about the darkness were never really looking for an exit, but had decided long ago that that is where they belonged and would stay.

But remember, it is never too late to decide to change, so light your candle whenever you feel ready to as the exit will always be there to embrace you.








Jessica Tavares Pedro

Poem titled :Genesis 1:3

a commandment spoken in Genesis 1:3
a simple sentence that sparked humanity
from void, came life
from darkness, came light.

a hospital room, where a soon to be mother cries
she pushes and pushes, she squeezes her eyes from a woman, came child
from the darkness of the womb, the child sees light.

a war ridden town, where a soldier sits and waits
he incessantly begs to be freed from hell’s gates
from hope, came freedom
from the darkness on the battlefield , he arrives home and sees light.

a field of plants, tenderly grown by a farmer
he waters them on the days that are warmer
from a seed, came life
from the darkness underneath the soil ,
the flowers see light.

God’s only begotten Son nailed to the cross,
though in pain , His sacrifice isn’t a loss
from suffering , came deliverance
He prevails against darkness,
He is the light .

many fear the darkness and seek light,
but I ask how do you search for something you are?
God stretches out his hand, and in his palm there you nestle, a star
From struggle , came fight
God declares, "Walk as children of light."

It is the creation, the Lord makes something perfect
from nothing, came something well-kept
from might, came something right
Genesis 1: 3, the Lord said
"let there be light"

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