In the wake of tragedy, we must shine all the brighter.

Stand a bit straighter.

Give a bit more.

Do better. Try harder.

But what does that even look like?

It looks like creating beauty from what repulses you. Courting love and light from the depths of sadness.

This is the noblest calling for every human being… but there is no challenge greater. For in the wake of tragedy and horror, emotions are rife. Hope derails a while. Prudence dissipates. Patience stumbles. Anger, disgust, rage, heartbreak, helplessness and hopelessness — all justifiably — storm in.

But if you can create, find, share or touch some small slice of beauty and faith, chance or connection, belief and love from the bowels of blackness… you have done your job.

Not as a writer. A leader. A giver or a believer.

But as a human being.

Because in the wake of unthinkable tragedy, true priorities become all the clearer. Gut-wrenchingly apparent. And the silly things we stress over suddenly begin to just fade away. All of the petty, unimportant garbage that we might bicker over or and the trivial thoughts and worries we entertain, day in and day out? They dissipate. Vanish.

And what’s left?

Life’s undeniable truths.

That we are all writers of our destinies and creators of our collective fate. That you and I are, together, shapers of the reality we live, every day. That we, together, mold life itself through the lenses of how we see ourselves and how we see one another and how we see this entire world as it is.

That we shape life through our actions.

Acts of peaceful defiance. Of determined love. Of hope, concentrated. Faith, renewed.

That is what it means to create beauty from what repulses you.

To rise from the ashes.

To love longer. to give more.

To stand taller and try harder.

To shine a little brighter.

For even when a day befalls us that brings more darkness than the night, alongside one another, our flames conjoin. And the lasting light of our love will never extinguish.