One of my favorite parts of Halloween is cutting the pumpkin. You slice open the top, remove the goop (yes, that’s a technical term), get a metal spoon and scrape the inside clean, cut out the eyes and nose and mouth, and then insert the candle and light it.
And what a reminder, too. So often in our lives, we’re much like the pumpkin.
We have those moments when it feels like something is scraping the lining of our soul. We’re left with an empty, dark space at our core. And our insides start to ooze, just like the inside of the pumpkin does after we’ve cleaned it.
We ooze pain. We ooze self-doubt. We ooze sadness. Uncertainty. Fear. Insecurity. Clinginess. Depression. We ooze all sorts of things.
Can you identify?
There are the common, everyday aches that are part of being human. Our insecurities get in the way of giving and receiving love. We get hurt. We feel alone. We lose sight of what makes each of us so marvelous and amazing in our own way.
And we ooze.
There’s also those times that hollow us out in more significant ways. An illness. A relationship. A job. A family. An addiction. Abuse. Betrayal. And on and on and on. Those times can really leave us feeling empty and dark inside.
It’s part of life.
A lot of people have tried to make sense of why we experience so much pain throughout out lives. I don‘t know about you, but I find the guesses inadequate.
Truth is, we don’t really know why pain is such a part of life. But we do know from experience how it works. And where it leads.
When we get hollowed out, we’re left with an open space and a decision. Do we leave the space empty? Or do we fill the void with a candle and light it?
Do we stay dark, or do we decide to glow?
The process of getting scraped clean can make us stronger if we allow it to do so. We can decide to let light shine from the space that’s been created.
This isn’t some pumpkin-pie-in-the-sky attempt to put a positive spin on our pain. We know from our shared experience that the most difficult times often make us grow the most. Our pain broadens us and becomes a pathway to others. If we choose to walk the path, we become more compassionate, more empathetic, more loving. We learn what healing is about.
We’re transformed in significant ways.
Yes, there is no going back. Once our goop (technical term) has been scooped away, we can’t put it back. We’ve gone through a process that leads us to a new place.
And to a decision.
That dark, open space at our center — what will we do with it? Will we leave it that way? Or will we place a big, colorful candle there and light the wick?
We can choose to glow.
And it’s OK if our hand is still trembling as we strike the match.