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When the power goes out in your home at night, one of the first things you do is light a candle.

I like to think that what we’re doing in The Living Conversation is holding up some candles that help us find our way through the world.

One candle I’ve been carrying around in my mind lately is this brief line from the late Mary Oliver, the best-selling poet of our times.

“It is a serious thing to be alive on this fresh morning in the broken world.”

You may take something else, but here’s what I take from this.

It’s important to just remember that we live in a broken world. There is brokenness in all our institutions, and it’s always been that way. There is brokenness in you, in me, in everyone we meet. There is brokenness in every family.

And it does little good to only be a big, loud critic of all the things that are wrong. As someone has said:

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

So what do you have to put against all that brokenness? Two things.

First, you have the freshness of the morning—and everything it represents. That sense of renewal and hopefulness and aliveness and joy that comes with the rising of the sun.

Morning is the time of waking up—of awakening our whole humanity, awakening to the unique moments and challenges of the day ahead.

This is no small thing. Thoreau said that all great work is done in a morning atmosphere. The task of staying awake is an important one.

The second thing you have to put against the brokenness…is you. You are here, you are alive, you are unique, you play a part in this world no one else can play.

Oliver is saying: don’t take your life for granted. You matter. And you matter more than you think you do—right where you are.

When the world seems dark and broken, and we’re tempted to think, why doesn’t someone do something? We can say:

“I’m someone. I can do something.”