One evening not long ago, when I was sunk in suffering over something beyond my control, I remembered James Baraz’s 91-year-old mother Selma.
In the you tube video “Confessions of a Jewish Mother,” she tells how her Buddhist son ruined her life. He got so sick of her complaints that he asked her to do something new. Every time she complained, she should just add these words: “but I am blessed.”

She did it, and to her horror – “It kills me to say this,” she lamented – she got happier.

Floundering in my doldrums, I thought maybe that’s a good antidote. Negativity is really just complaining internally, so maybe I’ll just try repeating those words to myself whenever I have a negative thought…

She was right. It works! The problems are still there, of course, but the words let the light in, and the darkness is never quite so dark after that.


Song of Light

For Selma Baraz and her son James, who brought light into the darkness by reminding me that I am truly blessed

Blessed is the Light

Flower of life

that opens my heart with joy

from deep within

Generous is the Light

that does not scorn the shadows

though they scuttle before it

like discombobulated dreams

Friendly is the Light, and tranquil

holding me like a child

and filling me with peace

Do not ask me to explain

Words are themselves

made of Light

and so cannot define their substance

but can only sing.




An Antidote to Darkness

Trudi Lee Richards

Author, poet, Spanish-English translator; Activist and community builder. Member of the international Community of Silo's Message ( and its Portland, Oregon and Red Bluff, California communities ( Published work includes "On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo," "Soft Brushes with Death, a Jorge Espinet Primer," "Fish Scribbles," and "Experiences on the Threshold - with Silo's Message." Also publisher and editor of "Human Future," an independent review published in San Francisco, California, from 1989 to 1996. Mother of five grown kids/stepkids and five step grandkids; Long ago graduate of Stanford University; Lives in Portland, Oregon.