Lucia to light up the dark

Lucia to light up the darkDecember 21, 2018


Lucia service at Southwark Cathedral, performance by the choir from the Swedish Church in London

Exactly a year ago I wrote about Saint Lucia and how the Swedes celebrate this saint’s day with traditional songs and candles to light up the dark.  We can’t change the dark, but we can change our attitude towards it.  In fact one particularly beautiful song reminds us not to fear the dark, because this is where light resides.  We can’t have one without the other. For the Swedes who want to know it’s: Var inte rädd för mörkret ty ljuset hvilar där.

It’s easy to make the connection from collective singing to project teams that come together to complete a specific task and then disband.  Different constellations gather for performances on different days.  What is needed from each individual is the strength that comes from knowing your craft (the vocal part and lyrics for each song) as well as the willingness to contribute and sometimes to accept support.  It helps when you are uncertain to trust in the ability of your teammates and lean on them.  Each vocal part in a choir sticks to its own tune while contributing to a harmonious whole.  You have to let go of your “own voice” to create something bigger, more beautiful, that resonates at a deeper level.

What moved the thousands of Swedes in London to attend the Lucia services? My guess is that it is about revisiting childhood memories and having the sense of “returning home”.  This is something that truly touches hearts and souls. I wonder where “home” is today, particularly for those who are displaced and are far from their roots? For me this is a burning question as I shuttle between Stockholm, London and elsewhere.  I think it’s a place where we can feel accepted for who we are, with a sense of belonging, where we can bring our gifts and awake refreshed from peaceful sleep, knowing that every day we have the opportunity to contribute, to the best of our ability.

Giv mig ett bo, med samvetsro, med glad förtröstan, hopp och tro!

These are the words of the carol with the English title “I seek no gold or majesty” (Giv mig ej glans in Swedish).  The phrase refers to the desire for a place to live in faith and hope. The word “samvetsro” stands out for me.  It’s hard to find a direct translation into English but it means having a peaceful conscience.  Hearing news from around the world of the difficult and complex challenges we face, how many of us have hope for the future?  How many trust their business leaders and elected politicians to stand up with hope and faith to challenge the untruths that are so easily spread, causing division and unrest? At GBL our hope is to contribute to a better world through our leadership development work and spread the word to a wider audience with our upcoming book The Discovery Prism: a fresh lens on 21st century organisations, which we eagerly await in early 2019.

The Christmas message is one of peace and love.  If we are to sleep with a good conscience, we all need to commit to doing whatever small acts we can do on a daily basis to bring forth light from the darkness.

How do we do this, it can’t just be another item to add to our already overstretched to-do list?
In a professional development workshop this week we were reminded of the concept of “wide-angled empathy”.  This is a real stretch of perspective, a call to put aside our fast judgments of people and situations, to be open or curious about difference and even beyond that, to practice empathy for whomever we encounter.  Try it for yourself when watching the news on TV – how many minutes do you last before a negative comment jumps to mind?  I find it very hard.  Yet if we are to embrace all the messiness of the world around us, and contribute more than just our own bit of mess, it might be an attitude worthy of consideration.

Anne and Helen at GBL wish you a Christmas season of “homliness” wherever you spend the holidays and  renewed hope for the New Year.

Anne Stenbom



Other blog posts