Provision #530: Let Your Love Shine

Laser Provision

It’s often been said that we need to let our little light shine. There’s even a song by that name. But it’s not just any light we need to let shine. It’s not the explosive and destructive light of malevolence; it’s the gentle and constructive light of benevolence. That’s the light that makes life worth living and a better place to be. In today’s Provision, poet Mary Oliver and the apostle Paul show us the way. Read on for some sparks that will get your own light shining with love.

LifeTrek Provision


It’s been a rich and full week of travel and client activities, including our last two days with the Fostoria Community Schools in Fostoria, Ohio. After almost three years of work, involving leadership coaching, professional development, appreciative inquiry, and nonviolent communication, our time with this wonderful District is drawing to a close. We salute and celebrate the people of Fostoria.

One reason for that salute and celebration is the deep caring and benevolent spirit with which they approach the task of education. With few exceptions, we found in Fostoria the kind of people we would want to be educating our own children. Their love for the work and their passion for the mission were palpable.

In many respects, they represent the spirit of benevolence that we are now writing about in our series on Optimal Wellness. They are there to make life better, not worse, for each other and most of all for the children whose lives and education have been handed to them as a sacred trust.

That’s the attitude and approach we would all do well to take, whether we are educating children or making widgets, in life and work. That’s what makes life not only worth living, but also more enjoyable. We’re not called to let just any light shine; we’re called to let shine the light of love. Consider the following two poems, one by Mary Oliver and the other by the apostle Paul, as the case statement not only for kindness but also for optimal wellness.

The Buddha’s Last Instruction
by Mary Oliver

“Make of yourself a light,”
said the Buddha,
before he died.

I think of this every morning
as the east begins
to tear off its many clouds
of darkness, to send up the first
signal • a white fan
streaked with pink and violet,
even green.

An old man, he lay down
between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.

The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.

Around him, the villagers gathered
and stretched forward to listen.

Even before the sun itself
hangs, disattached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere
by its ocean of yellow waves.

No doubt he thought of everything
that had happened in his difficult life.

And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire —
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.

Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a, 12f
adapted from The Message version by Eugene Peterson

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy
but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak the Word with power,
revealing all mysteries and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps,
but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor
and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr,
but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do,
I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut.
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the wrongs of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.

For now, until the Divine Completeness arrives,
we have but three things to do:
Trust steadily in God,
hope unswervingly, and
love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love.

Do you see the connection between Buddha, Jesus, and Fostoria? We are to let our light shine, but it’s not just any light. It’s not the explosive and destructive light of malevolence. It’s the gentle and constructive light of benevolence. Like the slowly dawning sunrise, that eventually “thickens and settles over the fields” and “blazes over the hills,” we find ourselves “turning into something of inexplicable value.” We find ourselves turning into love.

A love that knows no bounds. A love that “cares more for others than for self,” that “doesn’t strut or have a swelled head,” and that “doesn’t keep score of the wrongs of others.” There is no fault here! There is only that which “looks for the best, never looks back, and keeps going to the end.”

Buddha did that, to the end. Jesus did that, to the end. And the people in Fostoria are doing that, all the way through to the end. It’s not easy being in education today, but love never dies. And the more extravagant the benevolence the better, since the best of the three is love.

Coaching Inquiries: In what way have you anchored your life in love? How clearly does the light of benevolence shine in your life? How could you make it shine even brighter and stronger? Who or what situations could benefit most from your love? Where could you turn for encouragement, challenge, and peace?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob..


Your Provision this week on Evolutionary Wisdom was fantastic. It inspires me to be listening in a more empathetic manner. Both my husband and I are struggling through trying times with our aging parents. Your message came at just right time. Thanks.


My aunt introduced me to LifeTrek Provisions years ago, perhaps all the way back in 1999. I signed up immediately and have been receiving Provisions ever since (I’ve lost track of the time).

After all this time, I mentioned to my aunt that I was still receiving and reading Provisions. She said to say hello. I was more than happy to oblige, since I also want to let you know what your e-newsletter has meant to me.

I find that LifeTrek Provisions continuously sets up before me the vision of a better, more well-rounded life. I long for it but as a caregiver find it just outside my reach. Nevertheless, I continue to read Provisions and never give up that I can capture at least parts of the ideal that you talk about. Thanks.


I started receiving your e-newsletter after attending the CoachVille conference in New Orleans a couple years ago. I had a booth there and we exchanged business cards. After all this time, I wanted to let you know that I absolutely love your e-newsletter. It is one my Sunday highlights! I should have thanked you for it long before now. I also should have told you that I’ve referenced Provisions a few times on my Blog. Your topic today, Evolutionary Wisdom, was particularly timely, since it came just after I was to introduced the work of Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer. You can read the post on-line. Thanks!



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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