Last night I got to play a very small role in a monumental event: Shine a Light. Invited to be a greeter by my friend and colleague, Mary Rogan, I stood in the darkness on the longest day of the year and opened the door for participants as they arrived to roll out their yoga mats and do 108 asanas to raise awareness about human trafficking. Shine a Light partners with organizations in Oregon and India to give refuge, rehabilitation, education and hope to individuals affected by or vulnerable to the commercial sex industry.
I asked Mary if she wanted me to say anything specific or shake people’s hands like I do when I am a greeter for my Rotary Club. “You can do whatever you want,” she said calmly. “Free form welcoming! I trust you.”
At first I stood inside the doors, directing people a few feet away to the registration table. But it was too intense a welcome for a graceful transition from outside to inside. The registration people were welcoming in their own right—Natasha, a high school student who involved many teens in the cause, and Barb, a fellow rower who is also an awesome business woman. They were already shining in their own brilliant way. I stepped outside.
I stood in the light and in the dark, waiting. The security light illuminated the entryway for 5 minutes and then went off for the same length of time. The sky was expansive, heavy with layers of watercolor greyness.
I could make out the silhouettes of people as they came closer, their rolled up yoga mats slung over their shoulders. “Welcome,” I called into the night. “Thanks for coming.” I smiled and opened the door.
Close to when the event began, a middle-aged man went through the door and then did a U-turn, coming back outside. “I was a doorman at a 5-star hotel for awhile,” he said, “and you exemplify the role—you’re friendly and warm. You make a difference.”
I’ve often heard people say that when you volunteer, you actually receive more than you give. For me that was true last night. I got to give my particular gifts and though I am not flexible enough to do 108 asanas, I could show up and shine in my own special way. It was the inclusiveness of Mary and her team, and the pulling together of talents that allowed me and others to shine last night.
With the support of family and friends Mary provided the opportunity for people to participate in building a safe community, full of love and light. Light on the darkest day of the year. Light beyond Winter Solstice 2014 and into the future.
I will help.
I will participate.
I will make a difference.
I will shine a light into the darkness.