It was Halloween at the Children’s Home, and as a new staff member in the Adoption program, I could not wait to be at the parade to connect with others. There was a vibrant energy that filled the room, smiles that lit up the hallway, and depth and joy in the children’s Being as they made their way down the smile lit trick or treating path. Coming from over a decade of classroom teaching, I was craving this type of energy and experience within the community. As we remember holidays all throughout the calendar year, I was also reminded of the opportunity holidays give us to connect, share, and learn about one another’s life experiences, traditions, rituals, and often roots. In essence, holidays ((can offer)) a window into connecting with one another.
Sunday, November 12, begins a 5-day long holiday known as Diwali (Divali); the word is derived from the Sanskrit term dipavali meaning “row of lights” and is observed by many but whose roots are birthed and celebrated throughout India. While I do not have personal experience with this holiday within my familial ecosystem, I do want to shed light on its profound theme and encourage curiosity about each other and the places from which we derive and the intertwining threads that connect us to ourselves, each other, and our service in the world.
Diwali is the “festival of lights” that celebrates the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. Lights, family gatherings and sweets are major parts of this ancient holiday.
A lot of times when we hear the words “Social Work”, “Foster Care”, and “Adoption” we associate a feeling of darkness as there are many complex and intersecting layers of grief and loss within its sphere. We talk about the trauma experienced by first parents, adoptive parents and adopted individuals. We discuss secondary trauma that our staff experience from hearing about the horrors some of our foster kids have faced. We learn as staff how to best work with kids and families who have had such trauma and grief and how to take care of ourselves as we go. Whether foster parent, adoptive parent, or staff, we get through the darkness, by looking for and remembering the light.
In my experience thus far working in this program, as well as my personal life, I am reminded of light that is always there, but not always seen. On Halloween, it was the children and the workers around that glowed. During a personal transition, it was the relational support around me. This is not about toxic positivity or positive psychology or even gratitude, but truly about taking a moment to stop, look, listen and even ((feel)) for the light in our lives and let it permeate within. Ironically, this doesn’t always mean the light embodies a “good” feeling, perhaps it’s layered with fears, anxieties, questioning, and risk. But do we even take the time to stop to make that observation for ourselves? For me, Diwali is a reminder and a window.
To learn more about Diwali:
Chelsea Butela, M.Ed. Child Permanency Social Worker