Light Shining through Clouds


December 20, 2023

"Who looks outside dreams: who looks inside awakens." Carl Jung

In this holiday season I’m not sure the weather outside is frightful (at least not here in the Pacific NW at this moment) but it surely is dark. Once again, we have made our way around the calendar to come upon the longest night of the year, winter solstice. This is a time of waiting for the very gradual return of light. At a seemingly imperceptible pace, we watch for the subtle signs of daylight slowly returning.

While we patiently (or impatiently) wait for the light, there is an invitation to look inward. There is something about the stillness of the dark that invites reflection and a reminder that the light within us is there all throughout the year, waiting for our attention.

Human beings are inherently outward facing. We have an anticipatory brain process that has certainly held us in good stead, scanning the horizon for the next threat, looking forward and preparing for what is to come. It is common for this process to claim much of our attention as there is always something ahead to consider. Perhaps the longer hours of darkness that literally limit our ability to see ahead can prompt us to slow down and be mindful of the more subtle light inside that waits patiently.

In this life of ours, there are events that bring us into the shadows, causing us to look inside. In these events, as difficult as they may be, we often find that there is light in the shadows after all which, unexpectedly brings awakening.

Very recently I received news that has caused me to reflect more deeply inward and to consider the depth and impact of finding and sharing the light that resides in us all.

In these past weeks, we have lost a dear and influential friend of Roanoke Park Counseling. For those who have had a long association with Roanoke Park Counseling, the name Barbara Brodsky is a familiar name. Barbara began to work as a therapist in the early days of (then) Shepherd’s Counseling Services, working alongside our founder Sr. Vera Gallagher in leading groups for female survivors, and eventually seeing individual clients and couples as well. It is impossible to calculate the positive and life-changing impact that Barbara has had in the lives of so many survivors, but without any doubt, this world is a better place because of the light, love, and integrity she brought to her work with survivors.

I had the incredibly good fortune not only to work with Barbara professionally over the years, but to form a deep and lasting friendship. To know Barbara was to be the recipient of the light of her generous and kind spirit, the strength of her deep belief in the goodness of the human spirit, and in the possibility of healing and resilience. In 2003, as the agency was nearing an ending, Barbara was a part of a team of three that, despite formidable challenges, held fast to the belief in the power of healing and refused to allow the lights to go out in this vital resource for survivors. It is not an exaggeration to say that the beacon of healing that is Roanoke Park Counseling is here today because of Barbara’s steadfast belief in the strength and light of healing.

It is difficult to contemplate such a loss, yet as the process of grieving my precious friend brings me into the shadows of heart ache, I see and feel the light that remains.  It is this light that reminds me that, no matter how dark the day, there is a light that is stronger and steadier than the darkness. It is always there to be found and shared. And more importantly, it reminds me that even the darkness of loss cannot extinguish the light of goodness that lives on and shines brightly in this world because of one person who so generously shared her light with the world.

I can think of no better way to honor a life well-lived than to follow the example that Barbara has left us – to look deeply inward to fan the flames of the glimmer of light that exists and to share it, in any and every way possible. In these shortening days of winter, may we all find enough stillness to allow our light to shine in our own hearts and outward to make his world of ours a better place. And perhaps, amid darkness, that is the true awakening that awaits us all.

Janice Palm LMHC, Executive Director


Barbara Brodsky LICSW

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