I've told this story before and I'll likely tell it again. When I was a baby, I'd cry at 6pm on the dot every night. As reliable as a pocket watch or the measured voice of the talking clock. I was as persistent as the car alarm in the street outside your window, when you are trying to get to sleep.
It took a long time for anyone to work out how to quieten me, and in the end it was only my dad who could do so. He would pick me up and take me round the house to stand underneath each of the ceiling lights in turn. He pointed to each one and told me what it was. He let it mesmerise me until the spell was broken and I began again to lament, in earnest, the terrible nature of the unspeakable minutes surrounding 6pm.
And so, when I finally spoke, light was what I said. Perhaps that doesn't matter very much at all. It was hardly a promise. It wasn't a declaration of what I would believe in or what I might manage to find or to make. But sometimes, when I am afraid I think of it anyway. It feels like my first word still has power.
It reminds me that there isn't a darkness which fails to be softer if there are stars being held in it. The sun doesn't stop being what it is, just because the world turns away from it and neither could we. Laughter is a beam of something brighter than the shadows and it isn't just plants who wither without light. Even the ordinary is transformed by it, so the windowpanes with the smudges on them, and the spider's web in one corner, are sometimes made into prisms which send rainbows to rest upon my bed.
I have slept with those rainbows touching my skin.
Whenever what is happening to me feels like a darkness, I have realised it is my arms, rather than my eyes, which need to stay open in order for me to know that there is light.
That is what I think matters most. I spoke of light as I knew of it when I was very small. I spoke of strange and lovely things on English ceilings that caught my eye, but really the greatest light we will ever have is the company of one another.
It is the way we care and it is how resolutely we stand together which illuminates everything.